By Bilyamin Abdulmumin
Needless to say, everyone wants money. Most of us have an insatiable love for them. There is this Hausa rhetoric: if anyone says, “you have too much love for money, then the person saying that is playing with your intelligence”. In other words, the accuser is being unserious because what he said is a fact not only about you alone but everyone.
However, that is not the nitty-gritty of the matter because the like for money is one thing, and getting them is another. Getting the money is not as easy as pushing a standing pestle. Neither is it as easy as slapping a chick (in Dan Anace’s words)
To get the Phoenician’s invention, one has to invest a lot. It is a struggle for “survival of the fittest”. Those who bring or have the best ideas or strategy get them, thus putting us in constant skirmish and outweighing one another (capitalism in short).
Through their programs, some people have allegedly found a platform that can bring us this money almost effortlessly. In other words, the Ponzi scheme, alias pyramid, promises to free us from the bandage of suffering before getting the money.
To get to the utopia, according to these organizations, one will only invest a certain amount of money, and instantly a fixed profit is ensured (which one can claim after some time). The return of these investments is usually from 10 to 1000 per cent.
Initially, these Ponzi organizations’ operations were physical, with their offices and agents well known. One of such schemes that once cut across nook and cranny in Zamfara State was “oil and gas investment.”
The gale of the scheme in the state swept aside everyone on its path. It left neither business people, politicians, government workers, or even town heads. The “oil and gas” claimed an investment with a 100 per cent return in two weeks. For instance, an investment of 10,000 would qualify one to cash out 20,000 in two weeks. This is the type of eldorado business everyone can envisage, making it difficult to resist.
With the global transition from a physical to an online platform, the Ponzi schemes have followed suit. They would unleash their various applications where subscribers follow laid-down rules. Although different from the physical schemes, the concept remains the same: invest a certain amount of money and recoup mouth-watering profit (at 100 % assurance).
MMM was one online Ponzi that traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria, thanks to the subscribers’ testimonies like that of the oil and gas scheme. MMM promised and initially delivered 30 per cent profit to subscribers at every kobo invested within two weeks. This online investment was even riskier because the subscribers were dealing with faceless agents. When the MMM finally crashed, the bang of the burst was heard everywhere across the globe.
How the MMM founder from the far East of the globe, Russia, was able to convince Nigerians (some of whom are learned) to use not only their savings but other people’s money (staff salary, school registration fees, or money entrusted to them) was a mystery
The basic modus operandi of any pyramid scheme is the same: one particular schemer (the Ponzi initiator) would convince one to two people. Next, these two people convince four, four convince eight, and it keeps cascading like a symbolic pyramid hence the name pyramid scheme. Note the new subscribers in the pyramid pay the older ones; those at the top, especially the schemer who is at the top, bag the most money out of the scheme to the detriment of those at the bottom. For the scheme to remain healthy in operation, the new subscribers must always be able to pay the older ones; otherwise, the scheme becomes stuck in the mud.
Some of the Ponzi schemes recently to have met the waterloo are ISME and OSTIME. And according to “nogofalmaga”, an NGO specialist in dealing with Ponzi schemes, some other currently active schemes are only a matter of when not if they flow suit. These are SunPower, Tesla-recharger, Bitmaincenter sabrinascala, stormgain, among others.
In order not to take too much space, I reserved for the next article the discussion of some funny traits of Ponzi schemes
The elixir for easy money doesn’t exist. The Ponzi scheme can only provide for a few while robbing many others. If it is too good to be true, don’t trust it.
Bilyamin Abdulmumin wrote via email@example.com.