Ponzi scheme

Have you heard about the MMM investment opportunity? 

My sister is being bugged by someone who can only be described as a snake oil seller. He had visited her shop three times in the last month. He was trying to ‘woe’ her over into this ‘incredible’ opportunity of monthly 30% returns on investment. She was told to invest 20k naira to start with.

By the time she finished describing how these guys work, I remembered that I have read about them operating in South Africa and Zimbabwe and there have been number of reports of criminal investigation against them, on the ground that they cajole people to part with their money with a promise of high returns.

From what I read online, they are not associated with any bank, they claim to be social financial institution whereby money collected from A is given to B with a promise that A gets 30% on their investment and the cycle continues that way. Also, another catch is that A is told to invite friends and family to join the scheme, the more people one is able to ‘drag’ in the higher their returns will be.

My only question to my sister was that, since the guy coming to her has been persistent, if for any reason he disappears tomorrow, where do you go to be sure investment is intact?

We all know that it is extremely hard to trace anyone in Nigeria, and if a company told one upfront that they are not a bank nor investment company and no physical address in the country – one is perhaps better off spending the cash on a nice weekend away.

A brief search online reveals that Mr Sergei Mavrodi who is the head of MMM Global went burst in 2003 with a total of $100M of clients’ fund down the drain.

All I know is that if anything sounds too good to be true and it involves money in Nigeria, the best way is to run away, far away from it because there is no protection whatsoever for the general public in matter such as this.

Apparently this program has been going on all across Nigeria for a few years now, thousand of people are already knee-deep into this with expectation of high returns in near future – I wish these guys good luck.

What I know is that there is enough information on the web nowadays to read historical performance of a company or individual, so far there are a lot of controversies around MMM Global and enough information about his founder’s past in Russia.

This MMM Financial Times interview is revealing, those who are still debating on joining the scheme may find this useful.