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Nigerians Hook Onto Ponzi Schemes Despite Continued Losses

The reign of fraudulent investment operations known as Ponzi schemes is far from over in Nigeria, as the new face of advance-fee fraud has taken charge of the nation’s cyber-space, promising riches and more, with far more reaching consequences.
While the government is finding it a tall order to rule against such set ups, gullible Nigerians keep losing their hard-earned, meager savings and falling back to penury.
Before now, the Nigerian cyberspace was awash with advance-fee fraud activities, also known as a ‘419’, a set up in which victims were convinced to advance money to a stranger to help them clinch deals, marry them, pay their fare, among other stories.
With the turn of the 21st century, however, came the Ponzi schemes with which gullible Nigerians are made to part with sums of money, hoping to make twice as much, in almost no time.
Promises of wealth through networking and referrals are rung in their ears time and time again and their greed is taken advantage of.
Time and time again, Nigerians have clung to finely built Ponzi schemes promising obscene wealth, unbelievable better health, networking connections to the pinnacle of the business world and all other prospects too good to pass up.
Unable to control their imaginations, millions of Nigerians fall helplessly in love with the pictures of stupendous wealth painted by those who spread this questionable gospel of wealth in different ways.
According to the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC), the popular but ill-fated Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM), cost gullible Nigerians N18 billion at the last count, but that has not stopped Nigerians from putting their money where the promises are surer – and their hearts lie – in order to make a way for themselves in an economy which has not offered much in terms of consolation.
After promising returns – and actually delivering for some months – with some percentages on the original capital, the scheme finally grounded to a halt in December 2016, trapping in millions of dollars belonging to Nigerians, many of whom threw in all they had, as news of the scheme’s ‘originality’ spread like wildfire.
When it was rumoured that the scheme would return in January, many rejoiced and an equal number doubted. The MMM scheme returned in January, but with a difference. You could not withdraw your dividend, unless you ‘provided’ more help. Even at that, your ‘investment’ would only be paid out in batches, without the profit, as it is.
This did not go down well with many ‘Mavrodians’, as they called themselves, but rather than smart out of it and learn their lessons, Nigerians have diverted their resources to other fast-money schemes, in order to make up for their losses.
Among these were Twinkas, I – charity, Ultimate Cycler and Sarfund. They all promised 50 per cent returns on the ‘investment’ within a month, unlike the now-maligned MMM which could only return  30 per cent.
Forgetting the lessons learnt from the MMM melt-down, many rushed to borrow funds, so as to ensure that they reap fat profits.
Immediately, the number of investors ‘surged’ and funds soared but, like a pack of cards, they began to crumble almost simultaneously, leaving ‘investors’ with a sense of de ja vu.
A good number of those who frown at the swift nature of the income promised and abstain from it almost equal the number of those who have been gullible.
In the face of such heart-breaking developments, it was expected that these gullible ‘investors’ would learn their lessons, but far from it, more people invest their time and money daily and even try to get others to join, insisting that “this is not like MMM”.
A participant and a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Annie Salis (not real names), serving in Anambra, expressed her ordeal to LEADERSHIP Weekend.
She said, “At the beginning, everything was lucrative and we were making money, not knowing that the doom days were around the corner. I made N30,000 on my first investment in MMM and it prompted me to invest N200,000, so as to get N60,000 profit.
“Unfortunately, my money got hooked, as I couldn’t get help anymore from the site. Although, they recently paid N20,000 from the N200,000 that I invested, you could imagine that. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t even eat for days”.
Many also saw it as an advantage to recoup their investment. Kingsley, a business owner in Kano State, who lost more than N500, 000 to the MMM scheme, took a bold step to invest another N50,000 in Twinkas. Ufortunately, the scheme stopped paying shortly after.
“My situation is now critical. Greed has finally let me down. I rushed into Twinkas, hoping to recover my money, since the platform promised 100 per cent interest. It’s over a month and I haven’t gotten anything. Nothing”, he said.
There are some participants who express joy and satisfaction with Ponzi scheme, as they record their achievements. Isiaka Okikiola, a software engineer,  is one of the lucky ones who profitted from the scheme. He said, “I participated in three different schemes; MMM, Twinkas and Ultimate Cycler. I made almost 1Nm from the three schemes.
“You see, Ponzi is like a pyramid which has a peak where everything gets stuck. I joined MMM earlier, before it became popular and I made almost half a million. I split my money, investing in Twinkas and Ultimate Cycler, which gave me additional N400,000 gain. Then I withdraw totally, leaving a little amount in the account”.
But many were not that lucky. Ismaila Lasisi, a student of Kaduna Polytechnic who invested his fees in Twinkas said, “After a month of investing N20,000, I was paid double that amount. I then introduced my friends but, unfortunately, they couldn’t get back their money”.
Raymond Duduguru, a civil servant, is still bitter about the colossal losses he incured from the schemes. He told LEADERSHIP Weekend: “You know, things were not going to well with me at some point. When I heard about the MMM scheme, I decoded to borrow some money to invest in it. Everyone was talking about how much it pays and how the investment never gets lost.
“I borrowed money from my younger brother, my in-law and took what little I had. I was hoping that we would reap from it come Christmas. But, then, I heard that it had been closed till January 2017. That was when I knew that I had lost the money”.
Not considering it as greed, Duduguru said, “Many of the people who did were in need at the time. I was not the only one who got into it. Believe me, if the country was good, we would not have found any love for the scheme. But, seeing the way things are in the country, if that MMM had not come in to give people hope and spread some wealth, I don’t know what would have happened.
“Mind you, MMM did not close down. It is still in full swing; only that fear was planted in the mind of investors and no one wants to provide help, because many have funds trapped in there and they have told every other person interested not to venture into it”.
A forlorn Duduguru did not give up hope, as he is not done with Ponzi schemes. “Who knows? They could be the answer we need in a country like ours, where nothing works and the government is fenced off from the people”, he said.
Duduguru is not the only one who laid the blame at the feet of the government. Millions of others did, in spite of warning from the Senate and CBN to restrict people from indulging in such schemes which have no back-up plan or any agency regulating the affairs. They forged ahead, but indicted the government for not providing jobs and for the abysmally low salary.

This post was syndicated from Nigerian News from Leadership News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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