The initiators and administrators of the Mavrodi Mundial Moneybag (MMM), a Ponzi scheme through which they allegedly defrauded a large number of Nigerians and in the process siphoned about N18 billion from the country, has deployed new tricks to lure fresh members into the fraudulent investment scheme.
In the heat of concerns expressed in several quarters about MMM last year and particularly after the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and the media, warned Nigerians to be wary of it, the scheme was temporarily suspended in December 2016 to dampen the pressure of demands by participants to be paid their accrued benefits.
When the scheme was reactivated in January this year, new conditions were set by the administrators and made binding on the existing participants with long overdue deposits, otherwise called “mavros” to seek out and bring in new members.
One of the conditions put a restriction on the amount of money to be paid out per day with a proviso that members with lower amounts would be settled first, while others with higher amounts invested in the scheme should wait a bit longer.
In other words, members who had low levels of PH (provide help) would benefit first from the new payment arrangement while the entitlements of members with higher PH (mavros) were still held back.
The more senior members, known as guiders under the urging of the administrators have been pushing members with reasonable amounts still trapped in the vaults of the scheme to begin building networks of prospective new members and thereby be able to earn referral bonuses.
One of the frustrated participants, Abdullahi Azeez, told newsmen the quest of the administrators and guiders to lure new members manifestly demonstrates their selfishness saying it was horrible of them to continue to speak well about MMM.
His words: “All these people supporting a Ponzi scheme like MMM are guiders. They don’t care if you lose your money. They are only interested in the bonus they will get. My brother, anybody still supporting MMM is a guider. Guiders in the Ponzi scheme are a wicked set of people. They don’t care if you lose all your life savings. As long as they get their bonus, they are very okay,” said Azeez.
Investigations also revealed that the administrators recently unveiled a weekly promo aimed at enticing both old and new participants. Members are mandated to invite new participants and register them to qualify for the promo.
It was gathered that under the campaign called “Promo-Task Contest”, lucky winners can get cash prizes between N30,000 and N500,000.
On the scheme’s website a memo on the promo reads in part: “MMM Nigeria launches the first Promo-Task Contest – which a relevant section has been created for the contest in the Personal Office.
“Winners are selected based on the number of points received for completing promo-tasks. Whoever receives the biggest number of points becomes the winner.
“The contest period is from Monday to Sunday while at the end of each week, winners are announced and awarded Mavros (cash prizes) available for output. The contest offers 50 prizes with a gradation of prizes advertised. The first prize winner get N500,000; N300,000 for second place and N200,000 for third place. The fourth to the 10th place winners get N100,000 each; 11th to 30th place winners get N50,000 each while participants who placed 31th to 50th win N30,000 each.
“Members can compete in both online and offline tasks with a focus to promoting the community and contributing to growth of the scheme.”
Since the new initiative commenced, participants who have been providing help with the hope of getting 10 per cent of their 2016 mavros have not all had equal luck. Some confessed to Sunday Sun that they have been so frustrated by the scheme, while others lament that both their old and new mavros have been trapped in the system.
A participant, named Joshua (refused to state his surname) told Sunday Sun that “the system always warns that every participant should participate with spare money. I have got part of my old mavros and I am still getting it. The system also gives you 10 per cent of the help people under me provide.”
However, it was learnt that one unlucky participant, in a message sent to the administrators, lamented that she provided help just to get part of her old mavros but the person she was paired with uploaded a fake bank deposit slip as a proof of payment.”
However, when asked whether she would continue to participate in MMM, she did not give a definite answer. While some participants who got burnt have emphatically said they would never have anything to do with Ponzi scheme, others are still sticking with the scheme and endorsing it.
He said: “When MMM pays me my money, then I will believe them,” one Iyke Cletus posted online.
Another, One Chigozie Adaku added on Facebook: “Another Christmas is around the corner. Don’t be fooled the second time.”
Emeka Nwachukwu, a businessman, who said he has withdrew from the scheme, after losing a lot of money, added: “In spite of all the warning and advice given to these people (participants), they have refused to desist from it, and I keep wondering if Ponzi schemes have become antibiotics to some people. Are you not tired of losing your entire savings to these heartless fellows? I do wonder sometimes if the brain of our youths is being separated from their real self.”
A rather unrepentant participant tweeted: “It is our choice. It is our money. It is our bank account details. We are involved in this community while in our sound mind.”
An engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity defended the scheme which, according to him, failed because of the greedy ones.
“When MMM was reactivated after the suspension, we saw that there were things that made the programmers to see that the system was not sustainable and needed to be temporarily frozen. You see, many people had more than two to three accounts. The integrity aspect of it is what is affecting the MMM in Nigeria. For me, I still reserve absolute confidence in MMM. A lot of these people complaining have two to three accounts. Anyone that complains should reveal his private office to me and let me see how much of help the person has provided and how much he/she has got. Mavrodi doesn’t have any million somewhere. It is what people pay in that others get,” he said.
MMM, it was learnt, still has over three million active and non-active participants in the country. Meanwhile, the continued participation of some Nigerians in the Ponzi scheme despite the stern warning of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and financial experts.