In spite of the bitter experience that millions of Nigerians have had since the foremost Ponzi scheme in the country, MMM, pulled a break on its operation last December, similar schemes are springing up and many Nigerians are investing in them.
Nigeria’s public financial and anti-graft institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have repeatedly warned that the schemes are fraudulent and that those investing in them may lose their money.
The NDIC recently said an estimated three million Nigerians lost N18billion when MMM suspended payment to investors last December.
Operators of MMM later claimed the suspension was because its system was “experiencing heavy workload”.
On January 13, the scheme however resumed operations, 24 hours before the date it had promised to do so.
But the scheme has been tainted by the un-forewarned suspension of operations and many other complaints, with millions of investors not able to access payment and few new ones joining since then.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that its official website, www.mmm-nigeria.net, now has online consultants taking questions from visitors.
Amy, one of the online consultants, disputed the NDIC claim of heavy financial loss by investors in the scheme.
She told PREMIUM TIMES that MMM Nigeria only engages in “member to member transactions” and does not make profit from its operation or take money from participants.
Amy disclosed that the scheme had introduced new measures to avert the challenges that last year forced it to temporarily halt its operation. The new measures include placement of limit on payments to 2016 investors, who are referred to as ‘Mavro-2016’.
“A special limit for Mavro-2016 payments has been introduced. This limit was determined in such a way that GHs for Mavro-2016 won’t create any additional burden on the Community and won’t affect its sustainability. According to this limit, members get a part of their Mavros-2016 every day.
“Members who can request help in Mavros-2016 are selected randomly. Therefore, if you want to withdraw your Mavros-2016, check your PO regularly. Your turn may come. Besides that, MMM is developing additional tools that will allow it to intensify payments for Mavros-2016,” the consultant stated.
However, further checks revealed that many 2016 investors are still in the dark over payment issues.
Rapulu Ifebe, who invested N200,000 regretted not requesting for help when his deposit had appreciated to N450,000. He was waiting to get to N600,000 when the scheme placed the ban on payments last December. He said he has since not been able to make any recovery.
“Forget all those stories. I have not been paid, but I hope to get paid for real”, Mr. Ifebe said.
Pascal Onuorah said he invested N97,000.
“When MMM resumed in January, I was paired to receive N37,000 the day after. The two people I was paired with had to pay N17,000 and N20,000 to make up the N37,000, but only one person paid N17,000.
“Since then, I have not been paired for payment on my 2016 pledge and I have forgotten about that. I only get paid for investments I made in 2017 on the scheme”, Mr. Onuorah said.
Chinenye Nwosu, who refused to disclose how much she invested in 2016, said she has moved on from the experience.
“I heard that the scheme is now paying 2016 investors gradually but I have not really checked to see if I am paired because I have moved on with my life”, she said.
In spite of the financial losses suffered by millions of MMM investors, similar new schemes are springing up and attracting patronage by Nigerians.
These new schemes include:
Twinkas started after MMM ran into troubled waters. This scheme has a ladder of categories which you climb to progress in the scheme. These are Classic, Professionals, Premium, Ultimate and the Vetreran categories.
A recent check on the website www.twinkas.com indicates that the Classic category already had 198,985 members; Professionals 117,290; Premium 117,147 members; and Ultimate 170,322. No member had registered under the Veteran category at the time of visit to the site.
However, any investment in each of the categories would attract double the amount invested after one month maturity.
For instance, under Classic, members are expected to invest N5,000 for N10,000 return; and subscribers on the Professional platform invest N10,000 for N20,000 return.
My Liberty Family (MLF)
My Liberty Family was established by a Nigerian firm; Multi Liberty Multi Services Limited towards the end of 2016 in Lagos. It was touted as an economic and wealth creation platform structured to produce financially enabled virtual family members.
My Liberty Family takes the system of Family just like the Igbo contribution group “Esusu” that provides crowdfunding to its family members.
At the point of payment, the system assigns your Family ID to a Family Tree and you get to know your virtual MLF Lineage to benefit from.
“MLF is not a get-rich-quick platform, we are not selling any product, but what we are doing now has been in existence, it is just like Ajo in Yoruba and Esusu in Ibo”, Chief Executive Officer of MLF Multiservices Limited, Francis Ben-Adesokan, said at the launch of the scheme.
“But the difference is that, this is online. Here is a virtual family, but the truth is that, things are done virtual to catch up with the trend so that anyone anywhere can participate.”
Swissgolden, is fast gaining popularity among Nigerians on social media. Findings revealed that Gold is a new cover for a Pyramid/Ponzi scheme in Europe and the United States.
With their marketing programme, only a small amount of gold is actually sold by Swissgolden. The vast majority of the money is made by people investing in the scheme.
How IT WORKS:
Select a contract table and place your order by making payment. That is when you become a partner/customer of SwissGolden. Your order will be placed on a 7 cel table of orders. The table of orders contains 3 Levels. Every new registration is placed on level 1. You move through level 1-3. Level 3 is where you get paid. It is possible to get to level 3 before introducing new clients/customers.
Any client who fails to introduce new clients before the table fills up will be pushed out of the table and will have to start all over from level 1. In other to qualify and get the bonus reward on any table, you must introduce two clients for any contract you invest.
In the midst of the whole frenzy, one thing that remains vague and ambiguous to the public is how organizers of these Ponzi schemes profit from the schemes.
Nonso Okonkwo, an online consultant and expert in Forex trading gave his own opinion on what he thinks might be how Ponzi scheme organizers make huge profits.
“Now think of this way. Let’s say I want to start a Ponzi. First of all, I will open the website and start a huge awareness campaign that will draw the attention of the people. When people investing in the scheme begin to grow, I will then bring in like 25 super admins who will be my partners in the business. This 25 super admins will in turn create 25 fake profiles each, which will have granted privileges that allow them to Request Help without providing help.
“Since the system is not transparent enough for users to know who receives help without providing, these super admins on daily basis will continue to be matched with people who provide huge amounts, hence an endless cash flow.
“Now this is what will likely crash it at some point. The super admins will keep Receiving Help from People donating millions while the participants pay these donors back with interests. It will get to a point the little donors won’t be capable of filling the vacuum left and it crashes.
“At the end, the winner will be the owner who must have made billions, and the old-time participants. If a transparent system can be created which will allow the database to be audited then it will last for so many years”, he added.