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What is a 'pyramid scheme'?

Nine women have been convicted of masterminding a 'pyramid scheme' that conned 10,000 investors out of over £20 million.

How it worked:

The scheme operated around pyramid charts with 15 spaces on.

Each space was filled by a participant who paid £3000 who then had to introduce two friends who also paid that amount.

Once the chart was filled the 8 people at the bottom paid their £3000 to the person on top - who was called the 'bride' and after answering a series of simple questions was handed the £24,000 minus a £1000 fee split between charities (£600) and the committee (£400).

At this stage the pyramid splits allowing two new brides to move to the top of the pyramid and as long as new people keep joining this process continues. However in order for the Bristol scheme to be sustainable, every man, woman and child in the UK would have needed to take part.

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Help for Heroes speak out against fraudster

Help for Heroes say the public have been shocked by the case of Christopher Copeland from Devon, who has been jailed for stealing £300,000 through fake charity collections.

Copeland deceived the public into thinking they were making donations which would help our wounded. Instead he was stealing from them and using the money for his own personal gain through a deceptive web of fraud which took detectives three years to untangle. We have been astonished by the response of the public. Many of those defrauded by him have contacted us to express shock that someone would use organised and criminal tactics to prevent money supporting the wounded.

– Jo Brookes, Income Protection Officer at Help for Heroes

Man gets four and a half years for defrauding charity

Christopher Copeland sentenced to four and a half years Credit: ITV West Country

A man who gathered £300,000 in donations for Help For Heroes and kept the money for himself has been sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison.

52 year old Christopher Copeland from mid Devon admitted fraud and money laundering at Exeter Crown Court.

He had a team of staff, who believed they were raising money for charity legitimately, who took old military vehicles, branded with the Help for Heroes logo, to supermarkets and shopping centres all over the country. The money raised never reached the charity but was instead used to subsidise Mr Copeland's own business which was in financial difficulty and has since gone into liquidation.

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Help for Heroes 'collector' to be sentenced

Christopher Copeland has admitted fraud of £300,000 Credit: Claire Hayhurst/PA Wire

A man is due to be sentenced at Exeter Crown Court today after defrauding the charity Help for Heroes out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Christopher Copeland from Devon admitted swindling the charity out of £300,000 over an eighteen month period. He's been told by the judge that he faces a 'lengthy' jail sentence.

£10m to repair new A38 bypass near Dobwalls

£10m to repair new A38 bypass near Dobwalls Credit: ITV West Country

It's been revealed that part of the new bypass A38 near Dobwalls in Cornwall has to be repaired - at a cost of more than £10 million.

It was only six years ago that work on three mile stretch was completed, costing more than £50 million. But now the Highways Agency says safety improvements are necessary because of problems with surface water and the risk of ice forming when the temperature drops. Work will begin next month.

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