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Press Release

Two Individuals Charged with Operating Illegal Multimillion-Dollar Pyramid Schemes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin

United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin joined Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and other federal officials in announcing that on March 21, 2023, a federal grand jury in Wisconsin returned an indictment that was unsealed charging an Illinois woman and man with running illegal multimillion-dollar pyramid schemes in at least four different states.

According to court documents, Candice V. Cunningham, 35, and Joseph E. Johnson Jr., 50, both of Chicago, allegedly operated a series of pyramid schemes that were advertised to victim-participants under various names including Wealth Partners Publishing, Wealth Wise, Zero to Profit, 30 Day Success Formula, Lav Label, Beckett Group, and DTR Group.  Marketing materials for the pyramid schemes allegedly misrepresented that if a victim-participant invested money in one of the schemes, that victim-participant would receive payments from other participants he or she recruited.

The materials also are alleged to have falsely promised that if a victim-participant did not receive payments from other participants, the victim-participant was guaranteed that his or her initial investment would be fully refunded. Most victim-participants allegedly did not receive any payments from other participants and were denied the return of their initial investment. Cunningham, Johnson, and others obtained millions of dollars as a result of their alleged scheme.  

Cunningham and Johnson are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and seven counts of mail fraud. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count.

The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Amanda Swanson and Della Sentilles of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Farris Martini for the Eastern District of Wisconsin are prosecuting the case.

If you believe you are a victim in this case, please contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness Unit toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or by email at  Victims can find case updates and additional information at

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Updated March 24, 2023