Taco Bell Manager Accused Of Forcing Employees Into Ponzi Scheme

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Taco Bell manager problemsWhile all Taco Bell employees are instructed by their managers to offer customers servings of hot sauce, one manager has been pushing an even spicier deal, says a complaint just filed in California Superior Court.

Jeorgina Cervantes De Gomez was an assistant manager at the Taco Bell at Fairview and Calle Real in Goleta, located in Santa Barbara County. She says that her tenure came to an abrupt end in June right after she stopped participating in a mandatory Ponzi scheme for all employees. The scheme required a tithe-like framework in which employees were obligated to hand over some of their pay, according to a report in the Courthouse News Service.

The official complaint describes it this way:

"For approximately two years, TB's restaurant manager for the Fairview/Calle Real location, Doralinda Vargas, pressured plaintiff and other subordinates to participate in a secretive, Mexican-inspired Ponzi scheme, sometimes called a 'Tanda.' Ms. Vargas forced each employee to contribute one hundred dollars ($100) from his or her paycheck every payday to fund this illegal scheme. Growing tired of being forced to contribute the money from her paycheck each payday, plaintiff refused to participate any further.

"On or about June 1, 2011, Ms. Vargas threatened plaintiff with termination if plaintiff did not agree to continuing giving back to Ms. Vargas every payday $100. Plaintiff refused to participate in this unlawful act. As a result, plaintiff's employment was terminated with no notice."

Cervantes seeks compensation for back wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the firing and violation of Labor Codes.

As was reported on AOL Jobs earlier this month, houses of worship have also been a recent site of alleged Ponzi schemes.

Ephren Taylor, a North Carolina businessman, was accused of of running "a well executed, carefully crafted fraudulent scheme," according to a class action suit filed in the District Court in the Eastern District of the North Carolina Eastern Division earlier this month.

The complaint was filed by William Lee, Gennet Thompson and Gertrude on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, whom they say number in the thousands. The filing of the complaint was first reported by the Courthouse News Service. The fallout from the alleged swindle is estimated to number in the millions of dollars. Taylor and a team of associates stand accused of using business entities known as Information Enterprises Unlimited and City Capital Corp., and four others, to steal investors' funds.

The victims were allegedly charmed by legitimate real estate, financial services, and oil and gas enterprises to invest with Taylor and his empire. Taylor is said to have then promised "risk-free" returns on investments within 12 months. Taylor's strategy was to target minority communities, often attending black churches to recruit new investors. He is said to have preyed on a "what happens in the church, stays in the church" ethic. He also sold himself as a self-made millionaire, whose successes began when he was a teenager in the 1990s.

Of course, to even mention the word "Ponzi" in post-Great Recession America is to allude to Bernard Madoff. Madoff's $60 billion swindle saw decades of recruitment of investors into Madoff Securities on the promise of guaranteed no-risk returns. After being unable to meet redemption requests in the fallout from the financial crisis, Madoff turned himself in to authorities in 2008. And now, according to an Oct. 5 report in the Wall Street Journal, the trustee for Madoff's investment firm, Irving Picard, will begin making the first payouts to the scheme's victims. Mr. Picard and federal prosecutors have been able to recover some $11 billion of the swindled money. Much of it, however, is tied up in litigation.



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