French woman accused of selling fake cosmetic ingredients

French businesswoman cons thousands into growing key ingredient for anti-ageing products

A French businesswoman is being investigated by the authorities over a scam to sell Chilean kits to make ‘magic cheese’, a ‘key ingredient’ for some French beauty products.

Gilberte Van Erpe, who was arrested and placed under investigation in France last year, is suspected of setting up a vast pyramid scheme, promising buyers the fermented mass produced by the kits could be sold to cosmetics companies in her country.

Van Erpe promised thousands of gullible villagers that the white gloop held the secret to eternal youth and is used in a series of luxury French beauty products to produce age-defying creams and moisturisers.

The 66-year-old French woman travelled between Chilean villages, convincing locals the scheme would make them thousands and charged each individual around £282 for the kits. Van Erpe promised those who were drawn in that they would double their investments in four months.

Many who fell foul of the scam quit their day jobs to make the cheese full-time, while others sold cattle or cars to pump money into the scheme.

Now known as ‘the case of the magic cheese’, French investigators are travelling to the region to register the lawsuits of thousands of angry Chileans.

Van Erpe
is believed to have reaped at least 14.6m euros, swindling 20,000 people between 2004 and 2006. And it isn’t the first time. She was convicted for similar fraudulent activity in Belgium in the 1980s.

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