Wednesday 27 January 2016

Consumer Alert: MMM Global

News is emerging from South Africa of the freezing of bank accounts connected to a scheme calling itself MMM Global.

Their web site makes some very grand claims about how you can make money just by joining "a community of ordinary people, selflessly helping each other".

This was how their online chat person described the business model to me earlier today:
"MMM is a mutual fund exchange network where people provide financial help directly to each other in automated Private Offices via the internet. You Provide Help to someone else (donate) then get rewarded with 30% every month on the amount you Provide Help with (donate). You then get an opportunity to Get Help (withdraw your funds) you have Provided Help. The Power of Giving lets you receive in 23 times more than you gave to others in a year!!!"
However they were unable to describe how exactly the money paid into the scheme grew, other than by saying things like this:
"Your Rands are converted to MAVRO when you request to Provide Help, so the growth rate is generated by the system on your MAVROS. MAVRO is a help index which grows by 30% per month, named by famous Sergey Mavrodi, founder of the MMM Community. 1 MAVRO = 1 Rand."
No, I don't know what a MAVRO is either.

Then I asked if the money grows just because more and more people are joining and increasing the amount of MAVROs?

I got a confession.
"Yes, that too! Hence the money flowing in and out comment above!"
So now it's clear. MMM Global is indeed a Ponzi scheme and possibly a pyramid scheme as well. The money you pay in goes towards the people who joined before you.

Well, some of it does. Where does the rest go? That's easy. It goes to this guy, Sergei Mavrodi, the founder of MMM Global and a convicted fraudster with a history of such criminal schemes.

But it this even relevant to us in Botswana? It looks like the scam is  being closed down in South Africa so why should we worry?

Because it's still here.

This was sent to me today.

You've been warned. It's a scam run by a criminal. Is that where you want to put your money?

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