The Authority adopted interim measures against four operators carrying out online sales of electronic equipment using the so-called buy and share pyramid schemes. According to this mechanism, consumers are invited to buy goods at a particularly discounted price and then, in order to obtain the chosen good, must ensure that at least 2/3 other consumers make a similar purchase by joining a specific list.
The investigations carried out with the collaboration of the Antitrust Unit of the Guardia di Finanza highlighted that these operators use the first promotion phase to acquire credit by quickly updating the lists and consequently delivering the reserved goods. Only after a considerable number of subjects have joined in by paying the initial amount, the updating progressively slows down to a stop and, at this point, consumers are prevented from exiting the system and getting reimbursed for the sum originally paid.
These sale systems are able to attract an ever increasing number of purchases - in fact, mere reservations - but, as the ICA concluded, can only work if they expand rapidly and continuously – two very unusual, uncertain conditions that show how extremely unfair and deceitful these pyramid schemes are to a growing number of consumers and how they unduly affect the decisions of those who have joined these schemes.
On the basis of this evidence, ICA adopted interim measures against the operators, ordering to stop any activity whereby sales are subject to the subsequent accession of other consumers, as well as to stop the sale of products presented as available but that in reality are not ready for delivery.
Recipients of these interim measures were the following companies: Zuami S.r.l.s. (website: zuami.it.), Gladiatori Roma s.r.l.s. (website: listapro.it.), SHOP BUY S.r.l.s. (website shopbuy.it) and IBALO S.r.l.s (website: ibalo.it).
Rome, 13 December 2018