A Birmingham business has been closed down by the Government after an investigation found it was exploiting the religious sensitivities of its recruits.
Galaxy Lifestyles International(GLI) has been put into compulsory liquidation after the Department of Trade and Industry found more than 3,500 people had been conned into investing in the company.
Elaine Douglas, from Edgbaston, who ran GLI, claimed potential investors would receive discounts on their shopping. They were conned into believing that they could make up to £ 91,000 by recruiting a new member to the pyramid scheme every ten months. Most of Douglas's victims were from Christian backgrounds - and she even quoted Mother Teresa to get people to sign up.
The DTI said Douglas was targeting people through their religious beliefs and charging them a membership fee of £1,700 plus VAT for ten years.
Appointing the official receiver, Mr Justice Pumfrey told the High Court that the scheme was being sold to members of the public on a false and deceptive basis.
He said: "The methods used to recruit new members were less than honest, excessively hard selling and the whole scheme is a demonstration of half truths and exaggerations at the expense of those people who joined the scheme, some of whom borrowed or pawned the money to do so."
The scheme was wound up on the grounds that it was both unlawful, being in breach of the Fair Trading Act 1973, and inherently objectionable.