HOUSTON – A new scamming trend sweeping the nation has landed right here in Houston just in time for the holiday season.
The Houston Police Department warns that so-called blessing looms are an updated twist on scamming trusting people out of their hard-earned money.
It happened to one woman, who we're identifying only as Jasmine, when she was made a grand promise by someone she trusted. After hearing the details, the mother of four quickly jumped at the opportunity to join a blessing loom.
“I was told by her that if I put in $500 -- and getting two people to join, which they will pay $500 as well -- I would be able to get $4,000 back," Jasmine said.
Jasmine said once she paid her $500 she struggled to recruit others, and she’s still trying to find one more person to join the loom.
“They kept on putting pressure on me that I needed to find my other -- my second one,” Jasmine said.
And until she does, her $500 is flying in the wind.
Jasmine isn't the only one falling into the "blessing trap." A quick search of Facebook turns up tons of blessing loom groups under different names: Infinity Loom, Snowflake Blessing and Christmas Blessing, but they all work the same.
Some looms are as low as $10 to join. They use Whatsapp and PayPal to collect the funds.
One person, the one in the center, recruits two people to join. Those two people each recruit two other people. Two people will recruit two more until all the spots are filled.
Once the circle is closed, the person in the center gets all the money they were promised when they joined. Then it starts over again.
“Unfortunately my husband fell for this scam even though I warned him,” one viewer said.
“They are running multiple looms, from $500 entry fee looms that are restricted to women, to others that will accept any gender,” another viewer said.
“The blessing looms are helping people. Y'all put a negative connotation on something that could get someone out of a rut,” another viewer said.
Lt. Chris Lohse, of the HPD's Financial Crimes Unit, said his team is aware the scam is making the rounds through Houston, and the department is watching.
“The conduits are different at its social media, so it spreads relatively quickly. That's why it's a concern of ours. You're not going to get your money back,” Lohse said.
Lohse said people should use common sense.
“Always consider this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Lohse said.
Jasmine is not hopeful she will be able to recover her money. She now wants to warn other people.
“A lot of people are joining the circles and they're believing that they're going to get their money, when it's not true," Jasmine said. "I just don't want this to happen to other people what's happening to me. I'm still waiting on the money.”
Investigators said there is not much they can do once someone has paid money into these types of pyramid schemes. If you’ve spotted one or made contact with someone sponsoring a Blessing Loom – let us know. Send a tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for more information on Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes.