‘The schemes usually work by offering a low price or free product, which is often described as a training or motivational video, on a selling or social network site.
Describing McKenna’s business as ‘built on nothing but lies and deceit’ and ‘fraudulent through and through’, she jailed him for two years.
Speaking after the case, Middlesbrough Council principal trading standards officer Jim McCluskey explained: ‘This business was a classic pyramid scheme which purported to be a unique business opportunity.
McKenna – described as ‘aggressive, arrogant and unhelpful’ by prosecutor Joanne Kidd – promised to pass on techniques explaining how to set up a website to exploit social network marketing.
But the results never materialised and instead he tried to pressure customers into spending even more money on other ventures such as ‘Yournetbiz’, ‘Substantial Success’, the ‘Empower Network’ and ‘BigIdea Mastermind’.
Lee McKenna promised that for a £2,000 sign-up fee, his followers would earn up to £1,000 a day using the tips in his promotional videos.
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Another video was shot in a mansion in Wales which he rented for 24 hours.
One woman initially bought a product online for £5 – but then began to get emails from McKenna, promising she would make £20,000 if she paid £2,000 into his scheme.
Teesside Crown Court heard McKenna posted videos of private jets and foreign villas and boasted of an extensive property portfolio to convince his victims that he was a high-flying businessman.