The events of late 2016/early 2017 are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox popularly known as MMM was a darling of many Nigerians all through 2016 till it started encountering difficulties in discharging its duties towards the end of the year.
The reason why MMM was a heartthrob of Nigerians was simple – the country was plunged in the worst economic recession ever seen in recent years, and there was a cute little platform where you just had to invest money and get paid the double of your capital after a few days, with literally no stress. A good bargain, if you ask me.
But MMM, the generous Father Xmas broke the headlines, and hearts of millions of Nigerians alike when it released a statement in December 2016 that it was freezing all accounts. The Ponzi scheme’s operators on December 13, 2016, said the freezing became necessary to “prevent problems during the Yuletide.”
“The reason for this measure is evident. We need to prevent problems during the New Year season, and then, when everything calms down, this measure will be cancelled,” MMM said.
Although MMM website came up briefly in January 2017, December 2016 was the last time Nigerians heard something sensible and were able to withdraw from the pyramid scheme.
2016/17 seems like a short time ago. But since then, different Ponzi schemes in different guises and colours have come and go. Nigerians have invested, the few early investors have gained and as usual, millions have lost hard-earned money. But one theme is recurrent in the rise and fall of these schemes – Nigerians do not learn.
the rise of crypto pyramid schemes
Although tons of pyramid schemes, especially those disguised as forex investments were rampant between 2018 and 2019, the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 afforded many all the time and desperation in the world to jump at what they love most – free money.
2020 was the year when cryptocurrencies boomed and pyramid schemes utilised the wave of the moment – blockchain technology. We had platforms like Ethereum Million Money, Forsage, Fortron and so many others literally running a Ponzi scheme on blockchain networks like Ethereum, Tron and Binance Smart Chain.
The only novel attribute of those platforms is – rather than investing fiats like the normal Ponzi schemes like MMM, you invest digital assets like Ether and Tron, then earn more as you refer more people to the chain.
According to data from DApp analytics firm, Dune Analytics, Forsage whose founders were slapped with fraud charges in the early days of August 2022 by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission quickly grew to be one of the most popular decentralized apps on the Ethereum blockchain, with a quarter of the network’s bandwidth and gas costs spiking as a result.
Other Ponzi schemes like Juicebox, Racksterli and Forex-themed ones like Wales Kingdom Capital all gained traction. It was sweet at the initial stages but all eventually ended in tears.
Although millions of Nigerians have lost money and will continue to lose money to these schemes, the recurrent theme is that Nigerians don’t learn.
The reason why Nigerians keep falling for them is simple – the economic condition of the country is not favorable and the offers sound too good to be turned down.
There are so many crypto-related Ponzi schemes that take place on platforms like Telegram and Discord, but do not make national headlines. Many of those telegram schemes tell people to bring money for bitcoin investment and get 100% returns in a few hours, and many still fall for them.
The bottomline is, unless the economic fortunes of the country take a better turn, Nigerians will continue to fall for crypto and non-crypto related Ponzi schemes.