What she discovered was more Ponzi Scheme than sacred geometry—a perversion of the law of attraction. "It's governed by the endless chain scheme law," explains Bieg. "It's like a chain letter, but there's money involved and it perpetuates itself and requires infinite growth. The problem is, we don't live in an infinite system. We live in a finite system."
"It has to collapse inevitably," says Bieg. "And when it does, the more people involved, the more people get hurt."
Bieg created an online slideshow—it's received over 25,000 views as of September 2013—that lays out the math in plain language. Whether in the guise of a wisdom circle, fire circle, medicine wheel, vision sisters or root sisters, gifting circles will indubitably leave 88 percent of its participants in the financial cold.
The legal ramifications are serious. Anyone who participates or operates in an "endless chain" scheme is in violation of section 327 of the California Penal Code," explains Roxanne Olsen, a lawyer from Santa Cruz, who breaks down the legality of the latest breed of gifting circles in a recent post titled "Gifting Circles: Just How Illegal Are They?" A quick look at newspaper headlines reveals felony convictions for leaders of circles in Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, Michigan and Sacramento.
For those who want true economic empowerment, Bieg suggests looking into Lending Circles or legitimate women's philanthropic groups that pool money to invest in woman-centered businesses. Or find a group that promotes emotional and spiritual investment—without asking for a chunk of money. Sadly, for the women who get caught up, ultimately "gifting circles" offer neither empowerment nor financial stability.
"A lot of these women who get involved, when they get the $40,000 it's gone within six months, so it's not really spent in a way that changes lives," Bieg says, "and the women who gave them the money are out $5,000 each as well."