, JOHANNESBURG, Oct 15 – A South African woman and her family were convicted on nearly 395,000 charges with a total penalty of 29,000 years in prison for masterminding a massive pyramid scheme, local media said Friday.
Marietjie Prinsloo, 56, was convicted Thursday of thousands of charges of racketeering, fraud and theft in her 1.5-billlion rand (220-million-dollar, 157-million-euro) investment scheme, reported the Afrikaans daily Beeld.
With the sentences to run concurrently, she will likely serve 25 years in prison. Her ex-husband, daughter, son and niece will each spend 12 years behind bars.
Prinsloo\’s Krion investment scheme targeted blue-collar workers who invested their small pensions and severance pay. The scheme initially paid out well, earning her the endearing nickname Angel of Vanderbijl Park, a city south of Johannesburg.
After four years, the scheme collapsed in 2002 and authorities auctioned off game farms, wildlife, a helicopter, luxury houses, furniture and paintings to recover some of the money invested by 30,000 people.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius said Prinsloo "preyed on people\’s naivety and greed" and used "artifice" to hide the extent of her dealings from authorities, according to the newspaper.