It is no news that everyone wants to be rich and live a luxurious life. While there are those who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their success, unfortunately, there are also those who do not want to lift a finger before making money. And as such, resort to scams which some are still gullible enough to invest in.
I remember the first time I was introduced to MMM Nigeria. Then, the recession has taken its toll and we were all very broke before my friends told me about this great business that you could profit from no matter the amount you invested. Honestly, I was intrigued because I desperately needed the money. So they went on and told me that if I put in thirty thousand, I would get 30% back as gain.
This was just the best part. But I had to ask, do we introduce more people into the system to gain the profit? Or, do they give our money to other people as loan and from the interest we gain? They said no, we did not have to do anything. Now this was what lost my interest. If we were not doing anything to help the company and they were not doing anything official to increase the gain, what then was making my money double?
MMM had started its operations in the 1990s. Three Russians in the late 1989, the Mavrodi brothers, Vyacheslav and Sergei, and Olga Melnikova, invented the company and used the first letters of their last names to create the name MMM.
MMM became fruitful and active in 1994 after a few false starts. They offered 1000 per cent returns to their investors and aggressively advertised their company. Immediately, MMM gained fame and followers who in turn invited their friends to join. This enabled the scheme to flourish and gain even more popularity.
However, this scheme existed for less than a year because its inventor, Sergei Mavrodi went to jail for tax evasion and as such, all the company’s assets were frozen. Most of the investors did not get their money back and those who did only got back a small portion of it.
Speaking of MMM Nigeria, the doors were open to the Nigerian people in 2015 and had gained major popularity in less than the two years that it had been active. So many people invested their money into the scheme and as it was still in its early days, a lot still got their promised returns.
However, due to what was described as a “system overload”, many people who had invested in 2016 had their assets frozen and for several months could not gain access to their money. Even as at now, many still complain that they are yet to be given their money.
Many government organizations have spoken unfavourably about MMM, even a church. They have warned people against participating. But why are people still investing?
Many people are interested in the program because of the enticing promises it makes. It has claimed to be a social financial platform that enables people to give and receive money in addition to the bonus for only having their money with their system.
Although, the official MMM website warns that all the money invested can be lost and there are no securities or guarantees and that participants are only entering at their own risk. People are also seriously warned against investing their last money and should only use their spare money if they do have.
This makes it so clear that this might be a scam, one might think. But there are people who like to gamble for fun, despite what they have heard and read about MMM, it is still oh so enticing and grabs their interest.
Actually, MMM Nigeria has two websites: nigeria-mmm.net and mmmoffice.com. The first one has all the information you need to know about MMM: what it does, what it is, what goes on in the platform, and also all the testimonies of the participants who have gained hugely about it and so on. While the second one is where the money-dealing happens.
In general, the website carrying the information is very large and in fact, the most useless. Information provided has a lot of grammatical errors and data provided in various sections are contradictory and misleading. The “Legality” section is in fact three pages long and has not even a single word on what documents or organizations make MMM legal in any way.
Although, many people have fallen victim of this scam, it is still stealing from more gullible people. The problem with joining the scam is that you will definitely gain at first, but you can never know when they will decide to pack up and become untraceable. It just might be when you finally decide to invest all the money in your account, or when you decide to double the amount you usually put in.
MMM will always be there because of the many people who no not have anywhere else to get some money, those who are lazy to work and those who love to gamble. But there are some lessons we can learn from MMM Nigeria.
One lesson is that Nigeria is a goldmine for capital investment. It might be difficult to tell accurately what how much money changed hands under the scheme, but it is indefinite that it runs into hundreds of millions of naira, billions even. If these monies had gone through investment schemes run by appropriate and licensed, regulated, registered corporate body, this incident could have been influenced by stock brokers, and they would have created awareness about the promising future of the capital market. The stock brokers would have harvested these funds and buy up quoted stocks in the security market. The money is evidently there and so will the interest to invest. Now, it will be up to the financial bodies to look out for investors as aggressively as Bankers market customers.
Cautions given by regulatory agencies need to be adhered to. Central Bank, Security Exchange Commission and The National Assembly all sounded their note of warning to the investors of the scheme. But the investors ridiculed these national bodies claiming that the interest of the common man has never been considered and now that a profitable venture had come to help them from financial troubles, they are being discouraged from investing.
It was good that these financial and national bodies played their roles in warning Nigerians before hand. Too bad Nigerians had fallen too deep into the trap to listen.
Another lesson the scheme has thought Nigerians is to make transactions with only licensed, registered and regulated institutions. Many of the MMM investors did not understand what the implications of doing business with unregistered faceless, structureless company until after the Dec. 14th MMM time-out and there was no one to blame for the event, except themselves. To worsen the case, they had turned a def ear to the warnings of the CBN when all was flourishing but now, the investors have no government body to turn to for help in recovering their losses.
One huge lesson learnt is that not every idea preached by a friend or relative is a good idea. Majority of the investors if MMM heard about from from their friends, colleagues or relatives. These are people that they trust and believe have their best interest in mind. It is not like they did not have their best interest in mind because they too truly believed that the venture was a legit one that would duly profit them. They convinced their family or friends with the testimonies they had heard and believed to also be true. But unfortunately, the blind can not lead the blind. They had misled them without the intention of doing so,
The MMM problem would discourage others from joining in related schemes, one would easily assume. This, sadly, is not so. The deceleration of the MMM apparently gave room for an average of five relative schemes to originate. Investors still choose to try out the various investment schemes with the promise of great returns to get back the money they had lost to MMM.
Ponzi schemes can be easily recognized. These are investment schemes that gain the attention of investors by promising huge returns in a short period of time. The investors are urged to bring others to join too and would get bonuses for that. Older members will be paid profited from the investments of the new ones. But this is just a part of the scheme to continue paying himself heavily from all the money brought together by the investors.
When there is no way of generating funds, there is a breakdown in the pyramid when the creators draw out too much fund or when there is a record on the scheme’s patronage that it is impossible to pay profits or rewards to all the investors.
Unfortunately, people still refuse to learn and it is like they get even more interested in the schemes with every loss.