THE RETURN OF MMM AND OTHER PONZI SCHEMES
By Anthony Opara
In the first part of this story I explained the rise of Ponzi Schemes and how MMM came crashing in November 2016. I also attempted an explanation of how the scheme has been struggling to get back into the game since January 2017. In this part I will paint a clear picture of what the industry looks like and what Nigerians are doing to get by.
MMM announced a return by 13th of January and when the day dawned many of the participants imagined that it would be time to recoup their losses in 2016 but that did not happen and has not happened and may not happen for reasons that you will see if you stay with this story. Those who quickly rushed to GH or Get help were disappointed were told it would not be possible as limits of what they can get would be set, this was followed by attempts by Guiders to rationalize the present situation saying that the system needs to be stable before it can pay in the language of MMM is called Mavros or money if you may. In summary there was no money in the system to pay anybody and the way around it was for people to start providing help in order for the system to have money to pay those seeking for help or who would GH. Participants largely ignored all these appeals on the grounds that they lost a lot of money in 2016 and have not nothing to PH with. They suggested to the Guiders to inform Mr Mavrodi to find money to start paying off the old Mavros so that people will have enough confidence in the system to PH. By this time weekly meeting with the MMM high Command with Guiders had resumed with communiques of the state of the organization being issued every week but to say the least nothing encouraging was emerging from these meeting.
Meanwhile, other MMM wanna-bes like MMM West Africa, Twinkas, Donation Hub, NY sure Cash, NNN and a plerthora of others who emerged to fill the gap when MMM exited the scene were having their own issues as they were also unable to match people for payments. Some of their websites became unavailable when they could no longer answer the many angry querries on why people cannot get their investments and the promised return. When MMM went down some of the new ponzis came out promising 35%, 50% and even 100% return on investment in the peer to peer donation business. Not having understudies MMM especially with the reasons why it went into pause mode most of the operators found out rather too late the true workings of the Ponzi scheme. Most of the operators also started out with poorly designed websites that is up today and down tomorrow. A typical example is the MMM West Africa which is there today and disappears tomorrow, with an error message that this site is unreachable. Another one was SWAMPOOL which put a notice that it was moving to a better secured site but after one week it reopened but had been unable to match people for payments since then.
From MMM West Africa to Elite Givers it has been story of woe in the industry with Nigerians losing more monies more than they are gaining in the schemes. My investigation shows that when a new Ponzi scheme opens Nigerians rush into it and you hear stories how they are paying 100% of investment like Twinkas whereby you invest N20,000 and receive N40,000 after seven days. I believe that the operators and the participants do not think about the sustainability of the scheme and after a few weeks it goes burst with Nigerians holding the short end of the stick but what makes it appear bearable is that it appears that the money is paid into the pocket of another Nigerian and not a company but no one has come out to decode how the schemes go burst after a few weeks especially if monies are received by other Nigerians.
Investigation also shows that after a few weeks the character of the average Nigerian show up with many of them receiving money and when its their turn to pay the next person they refuse to pay but upload a fake evidence of payment or proof of payment or POP in the language of the industry. I can hazard a guess that the major that factor that destroys the scheme is the unfaithfulness of the participants rather than the greed of the operators. In the days that MMM was on forced holiday it was argued that their Guiders stole most of the money. In one instance it was alleged that one Guider made about Twenty Million Naira while providing help in the sum of only Three Hundred Thousand Naira.
Unknown to the majority of participants the issue of fake POP had bedeviled the scheme. In many cases people refused to pay their matches but rather uploaded fake POP which became a big headache to the operators. Various processes were put in place including threats to block the participants but Nigerians who can be criminal minded when they choose always found a way around the processes, A particular said to be one of the strongest in the country called Get Help World Wide also known as GHW is said to roll out a very harsh policies to fish out these criminal minded Nigerians threatening the scheme.
It was also discovered that some elements use the online blogsite Nairaland to run down these Ponzi schemes. It has been alleged that these Nairalanders register fake accounts and when they are matched to pay they refuse but upload fake POP, they then turn around to insert stories in Nairaland that the schemes were dying thus creating panic among participants who withdraw their participation and hence there is lack of funds to run the schemes. This may be true because the scheme runs on trust since there is nobody to hold responsible if one loses his investment. Though people are adviced to use their spare money Nigerians obey the advice only in the breach thus you hear people saying that they lost their school fees to the scheme. In one instance one young man was said to have used the money set apart for his wedding for the scheme and his plan was to double it.
The scheme is akin to the betting set ups all over the place. It’s thriving because lazy young people imagine they will make if big predicting football games being played in Europe because every day there are carefully placed stories of those who have hit big at the gaming stables and now that there is high levels of unemployment the youths finding nothing else to do in terms of gainful employment find the sports betting a way out of hard biting recession.
Recently the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) came out with figure of N18 Billion as being the amount lost by Nigerians. I consider this an amazing especially coming from a government institution that liquidates banks but cannot give accounts of deposits of the banks in liquidation but quickly released data on Ponzi schemes when money is noted to move from one account to another and even the banks cannot give a good account since the transfers do not say the money is for MMM for instance.
The operators warn their participants not to mention the names of the schemes when passing money from one person to the other so how did the NDIC come about the figures. This is more amazing in a country where the census figures is at best a lie known to politicians who inflate the figures of their areas for political reasons. Data coming out of Nigeria is a big lie and cannot be relied on and this is why the Federal Government have frustrated the attempt by Lagos State Government to count the people within her borders. The federal government know that the figures which may be nearer the truth will expose the figures given to Lagos in the national census. When the head of the Census Commission disputed the figures for states in the north he was quickly relieved of the job by President Goodluck Jonathan who did not want to upset his northern political backers but everybody knew that what the former managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company said was the truth. Only the Operators of the schemes can attempt to provide a figure of the gains and losses by Nigerians and even that will be a very hard work as all the fake POP’s will be sifted from the figures.
Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun