MMM, a get-rich-quick business that left thousands of Zimbabweans in financial dilemma, dominated timelines, blogs and news sites in the week of September 21 to 28, according to Google Trends.
Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager for Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, made the disclosure in Lagos on Friday.
Kola-Ogunlade said that many Zimbabweans were obviously wishing they could turn back the hand of the clock after losing their money on a popular online pyramid Ponzi scheme.
He said the information was particularly relevant to Nigeria as the scheme had already surfaced in the country and was receiving good attention.
“The Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox (MMM) Global Zimbabwe is a scheme that advertises itself as a mutual aid fund with a promised monthly investment returns of 30 per cent.
“Under the scheme, members contribute money to assist others. However, it is a network that relies on growing numbers of new members to pay off the old.
“It is linked to a fraudulent history that goes as far back as 1989.
“This scheme is currently in Nigeria and it is called MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria. The business has started to receive attention from Nigerians.
The Securities and Exchange Commission had in August raised the alarm over the activities of MMM under the name ‘MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria’, warning that the scheme was run by online fraudsters’.
The fraudsters, according to SEC, carry out their illegitimate business via Nigeria.mmm.net portal/platform, and are promising investors a monthly investment return of 30 per cent.
SEC said the venture had no tangible business model, describing it as a Ponzi scheme, where returns would be paid from the invested funds of others.
Investopedia.com describes a Ponzi scheme as a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors.
SEC on its website, had said, “The attention of SEC, Nigeria has been drawn to the activities of an online investment scheme tagged ‘MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria (nigeria.mmm.net). The platform has embarked on an aggressive online media campaign to lure the investing public to participate in what it called ‘mutual aid financial network’ with a monthly investment return of 30 per cent.
“The commission hereby notifies the investing public that the operation of this investment scheme has no tangible business model hence it’s a Ponzi Scheme, where returns are paid from other people’s invested sum. Also, its operation is not registered by the Commission.”
SEC, therefore, advised the general public to distance themselves from the online scheme, adding, “Please note that anyone that subscribes to this illegal activity does so at their own risk.”