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North Hills | VALLEY FOCUS

4th Person Sentenced in Pyramid Scheme

April 06, 1996|MARGARET RAMIREZ

A woman was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail or 75 days on a Caltrans work crew after pleading no contest to operating a pyramid scheme throughout the San Fernando Valley, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

Silvina Masias Ruiz, 28, becomes the fourth defendant to be sentenced in connection with an investment scam called "Friends Helping Friends." Ruiz was also placed on three years' summary probation and ordered to pay $3,900 in restitution to two victims.

In February 1995, Ruiz persuaded two North Hills residents into investing money in the pyramid scheme with promises that they would profit if they convinced others to invest. Instead, the unsuspecting investors lost their money, officials said.

Deputy City Atty. Don Kass, who heads the city attorney's Consumer Protection Unit, said pyramid schemes are popping up more and more in these lean economic times and often are given harmless sounding names like "Friends Helping Friends."

The three others who were sentenced previously were Liliana Marquez, 33, of Northridge; Jose Luis Gonzalez, 34, of Winnetka, and Filiberta Ledesma, also known as Filiberta Gutierrez, 36, of Mission Hills.

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