Unfortunately, the bitcoin-accepting Russian pyramid scheme MMM – led by convicted fraudster Sergei Mavrodi – is back in Nigeria in 2017 after it suspended Nigerian operations in December of last year.
The Nigerian government – through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) – are again cautioning citizens of the country against investing in the Ponzi scheme.
According to an annual report released by the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (Neff), over 11.9 billion Naira was lost to the notorious MMM Ponzi scheme last year.
As reported by Nigerian based news outlet Punch, the chairman house of committee of telecommunications Mr. Saheed Fijabi highlighted how the Ponzi scheme found its way into the country.
“The scheme entered the Nigerian circle in 2016, capitalizing on the high level of unemployment and poverty to deceive unwary Nigerians into falling prey to the antics of the promoters,” Fijabi stated.
The arrival of MMM further escalated the fraudulent scam activities in the country with many Ponzi schemes showing up to offer similar returns as MMM. Several of this schemes often referred to as “hit and run” by Nigerians have come and gone.
Despite its crash last year, which led to a total loss of funds for its participants, MMM has started again in Nigeria.
“This is to formally inform you that MMM Nigeria is open for all businesses a day earlier than promised! Let’s go there Nigerians” their Twitter account states.
This time around coming back with new terms and conditions, one of which is the participant of the scheme can now make deposits and (allegedly) withdrawals in bitcoin.
In an interview with Bitcoin Africa, Mr. Adeolu Fadele, the brain behind the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA), a platform that brings together government agencies, relevant bodies, and stakeholders to fight against cryptocurrencies related crimes such as MMM, explained the risks posed by such schemes and the exposure of them to the Nigerian public.
“I would say that the exposure was partly due to the drive for gain but majorly due to our failure to put investment in knowledge ahead. It is for these reasons that the CryptoNigeria arm of the CDIN had been dedicated to providing education and awareness to the Nigerian public for over two years now.”
At this stage, it is pertinent to be wary of pyramid schemes like MMM that promise an unrealistic return on investment (ROI). Trying to invest in these schemes with the plan to profit before the scheme collapse is very dangerous and foolhardy as there is no way to predict when they will collapse.
By knowingly investing in, promoting and defending schemes such as MMM you are aiding and abetting a criminal organization. Partaking in MMM and similar “investment” schemes will only make its owners wealthier and leave its victims with empty pockets. In the case of MMM, a scheme like this has even tragically led to a suicide among victims in Nigeria, which shows that these schemes are not victimless crimes.