A French con artist has been sentenced to three years in prison for running a wildly succesful pyramid scheme in which she tricked unwitting customers into making “magic cheese.”
According to The Local, 74-year-old Gilberte Van Erpe told people that she had special, secret, easy-to-use kits that would allow them to make “magic cheese,” a dairy product that was allegedly the secret ingredient found in high-end cosmetics. Her $415 kits came with sieves, filters, and a powder that could be mixed with milk to create “a small cheese pat.” Van Erpe told customers that tiny bit of cheese could be sold to cosmetics companies for a fortune.
The scheme was shockingly successful, and Van Erpe reportedly sold more than 5,500 people on the idea and made more than 14.5 million euros.
The cheese, however, was totally worthless, and some families lost their homes and all their savings. Van Erpe was arrested in Nice, France, in 2008, and was just sentenced to three years in prison.
The cheese was never actually sold, and tons of it were eventually found stored in a warehouse, abandoned and rotting.