“Want to Turn $100 into $800?” – The Anatomy of the Circle Game


  • Pyramid schemes work by moving money from those on the bottom of an organization to the top.
  • The leader of the organization typically promises that you can make a large sum of money in a very short period of time.
  • Your primary revenue source will frequently come from recruiting new participants.

Many of us have logged into our social media platform of choice and seen the infamous “Want to turn $100 into $800?” post. The author of the post claims that you can easily make money with little effort, all you have to do is joining their money circle. They often conclude their message with verbiage like “this isn’t a scam” or “here’s a screenshot of all the money I’ve made”. Well we’re sorry to break it to you ladies and gents but this game, which is often referred to as “the circle game”, “loom circle”, or “blessing circle”, is a text book example of a pyramid scheme (in the shape of a circle) and is illegal in the US as well as other countries. Today we’ll dissect the circle game and highlight the red flags associated with it.

The circle game is merely a modernized version of another scam known as the airplane game which was popular in the 80’s. Participants, known as “passengers” would pay a “pilot” to board the airplane. The airplane contains four “crew members” or “flight attendants” who were a step ahead of the “passengers” and two “co-pilots” sat below the “pilot”. Once the pilot collected $12,000 from his or her passengers, the pilot would “retire” and the plane would be split into two airplanes. Each “co-pilot” would them be promoted to “pilot” and the scammer circle of life would start all over. The “pilots” would make all the money while the passengers lost it all, hoping to become a pilot one day.

The organizational structure of the Airplane game.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Fast forward to the year 2020 and we’re back at it again with the circle game. The leader of the group recruits seven other individuals into their circle. The circle game uses the same operating procedures as the airplane game, but changes the organizational structure from a pyramid to a circle. This was done to give the appearance that the circle game is a legitimate investment opportunity; but remember, the person in the middle is the one who collects all the money. New participants must continuously be recruited for anyone to make money. Vidalia Police Chief, Joey Merrill, ran the numbers and concluded that “In order for the first eight people to be paid, 64 new people have to buy in. In order for those 64 people to be paid, 512 people have to buy in, and so on”.

Looks Familiar? A breakdown of the organizational structure of a money circle.
Photo Credit: CBS19

With additional stimulus funding constantly being discussed to help those who have been impacted by the Coronavirus, the resurgence of this scam is extremely likely. While the idea of making a quick buck is nice, remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember to always use caution when attempting to make money online and feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding the validity of an online money making offer.

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