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Gift Card Ponzi Scheme

A South Carolina woman was sentenced to three years behind bars after running a Ponzi scheme where she bought and resold gift cards at a discount. Annette Marie Benson collected $1.1 million from her victims selling Visa, American Express, gas and retail store gift cards for up to half off their face value. She was buying the gift cards legally and at full price, but when she established a customer base she had enough cash flow to buy more gift cards and attract more investors in her Ponzi scheme.

It is uncertain how long Benson operated the Ponzi scheme, but forty-two victims have been identified and it is believed she collected over one million dollars from the scam. Because Benson wired proceeds from her Ponzi scheme to multiple bank accounts she controlled, she was charged with wire fraud. After pleading guilty to the charge she was ordered to pay a restitution of $880,000 to her victims in addition to her three year sentence.


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