A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment where by you rob peter to pay Paul.
According to its Wikipedia entry its “A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator provides fabricated reports and generates returns for older investors through revenue paid by new investors.”
Ponzi scheme got its name from Charles Ponzi who made an elaborate scam in the 1920’s.
It is closely related to pyramid schemes which operates a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme. Some multi-level marketing schemes falls into this category.
Over the years the People around the world have fallen victims to one or multiple of such schemes. Nigeria is not left out.
Here are some Ponzi schemes that rocked Nigeria, some of them were so elaborate and successful that the government had to step in to dissuade people from joining.
МММ was a Russian company that perpetrated one of the world’s largest Ponzi schemes of all time, in the 1990s.
It was established in 1989 by Sergei Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and Olga Melnikova. The name of the company was taken from the first letters of the three founders’ surnames. However after re branding in 2011, to "MMM Global", it came to Nigeria In 2015 as Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox.
It promises patronizing customers 30% increase on whatever amount they invest.
The interesting thing about MMM is that even though reports abound of how it scammed members in other country people were still participating, hoping to cash-out before it crashes, which eventually happened in December 2016.
It re-opened in 2017 adding a crypto currency twist but it never gained momentum.
MMM was so popular the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had to caution Nigerians. The Head of the consumer protection department of the CBN, Kadija Kassim said:
“We have heard about the activities of MMM. “
“But I want to warn you against it because they are wonder banks that are not regulated. Desist from their activities because they are fraudulent.”
Daily Trust reports that in March 2017, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission (NDIC) said Nigerians lost N18 billion to the MMM in 2016. And that it had over three million participants before the organisers suspended payment to investors.
Claritta is a Member-to-Member Donation and Referral Platform. It works by a member donating for example N1,500 to another Claritta Member, and within 7 days the person matched with 4 new Members who will donate N1,500 each to you.
Clarrita came as MMM was coming to an end. Unlike MMM clarity didn’t last long because members started complaining that they have not been “matched”.
As at the time of filling this report the website is down.
Twinkas started in 2016, as at the time of filling this report it website is still running.
In Twinkas participants donate to participants that need help and in turn they also get donations with a compensation plan ranging from 40% – 50% reward based on the system On-Demand (OD).
The donation is made directly to member account. As with Ponzi schemes the subsequent investors have been complaining of not getting donations and compensations even though they have donated.
Meanwhile Twinkas has rebranded and re-launched twice.
Ultimate Cyclers this is said to be owned by a an American and it was reported to have gone through several name changes.
A participant is expected to register with example N12,500 and after a stipulated number of days the system would pair you with 4 other members who are asked to each pay you N12,500 each which makes it N50,000.
Like other Ponzi schemes the website is actually not working
Get help Worldwide
Get help Worldwide is a crowdfunding scheme which promises investors 30 % – 50% returns monthly.
The 30% is if you want payment in local currency while the 50% is payment with Bitcoin.
It works in similar patterns with MMM with the exclusion of guiders and inclusion of a limit to the amount you can invest.
Their website has since been taken offline
Swissgolden is a networking business in Nigeria that says it deals with investment in gold.
According to its website which is still online it says it has over 481164 users, 4 Marketing programs and partners with 196 Countries.
The website reads:
“To become a client of the Internet – shop, it is necessary to register and make an Order. In the Internet shop an invoice will be issued for you and the purchase price will be fixed for 24 hours. It is required for you to pay for the ordered bars within 24 hours and send a copy of your payment by e-mail or to attach to a message on our web site. If payment confirmation is not received within 24 hours Buyer’s order is cancelled.”
Recently in Nigeria the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, recovered over Two Hundred Million Naira, from Swiss Golden Investment.
This was after the Commission received petition from thousands of complainants who alleged that they invested in Swiss Golden Investment without receiving the profits or recovering their capital.
A Russian and two Nigerians were arrested.
There have been Planwell, in Edo State (1991 – 1992) also Nopecsto, in Lagos State (2002 – 2007).