MMM is an acronym for Mavrodi Mondial Movement which was founded in Russia in the 1990s and is known for having operated one of the world’s largest fraudulent frauds where between 5 to 40 million were swindled about USD$ 10 billion. MMM reopened in 2011 as MMM Global with operations in about 30 different countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Philippines.
The movement prides itself as a mutual aid network where members donate funds with the promise of also receiving up to 130% of donated sum within one month. But in reality it is a fraudulent scheme where fresh funds are used to settle old claims and it’s been largely popular in Nigeria within the last one year where about 3 million people have become actively involved despite warnings from the financial sector regulators and the mass media.
The organization sent shock waves throughout Nigeria on 13th December 2016 when members woke up to a mail freezing all accounts due to systems overload and negative publicity. The world has experienced lots of Ponzi schemes but none with the type of sophistication and scale which MMM represents. These are some of the reasons why MMM qualifies for the most sophisticated scam of all time.
1. The International Dimension: MMM leverages on the internet to scale up its operations to everywhere in the world. Unlike most other notable Ponzi schemes that were locally domiciled in various countries, MMM currently has operations in about 30 countries with plans for more spread. Members can participate from any location once they have access to the internet. It is not registered in any of the countries where it operates and has no known offices or forwarding address. It is faceless and will be very difficult for the promoters to be arrested or brought to book as they are largely unknown.
2. Disclaimer Clause/ Warning: On the MMM site is a warning advising members and that it is not an investment and that there are no guarantees of return. It also warms them to only use spare money to participate. It is written as “WARNING: THIS IS A COMMUNITY OF MUTUAL FINANCAL HELP! Participate only with spare money. Don’t contribute all you have”. This cleverly absolves the organization of blame in the event of default.
3. Your consent: your consent to having read warnings, fully understanding the risks and being of a sound mind and memory is required every time you want to participate. It plays on the psychology of members by telling them of the risks but also encouraging them to take this risk if they want financial freedom. This is another clever way of absolving itself of any blame.
4. Peer to Peer System: There is no central account where members donate funds to as you are matched with another member and you pay funds directly to his/her account. There is no record of you investing any funds into the organization and therefore you have no claims against it. This doesn’t mean that the promoters do not match their agents to get help without providing same until their targets are met. After all they control the back end and determine who gets matched to whom.
5. Donation as narration on payment instrument: A member is instructed to write donation as purpose of payment when remitting funds to another member. Donation is not an investment thereby forfeiting all claims to funds and the organization can as well decide not to payback.
6. Blaming the Media and Government: The organization never admits that its operations are not sustainable and always blames the government and media for failure claiming that it is being crucified for attempting to deliver people from an unjust financial system. By doing this, it cleverly deflects most of the anger and frustration for its failure from itself.
7. Irresistible Marketing Strategies: The organization cleverly markets itself using different well thought out strategies. These strategies include word of mouth advertising- You must write a letter of happiness for every funds received which is used to coerce other prospects and even awarded a bonus for every video you make. Also the referral system where you earn a 10% bonus on all referrals effectively drives new and existing members to participate. Other strategies include awarded bonuses to all new members and bonuses for year end seasons to encourage participation.
8. Robust Platform: The MMM platform is very robust and well thought out. It almost feels like dealing with a real bank. Every member has a personal office where you have all your information, funds and can even interact with the administrator or other members. System is quite efficient and well protected.
MMM will most likely return on the 14/01/2017 as Nigeria is currently its biggest market but I believe those expecting the promoters to easily let them off the hook are dreaming. There is no pot of fund anywhere for MMM to use and pay subscribers. The promoters will only dig into desperate and helpless subscribers till the scheme is finally buried as it’s a matter of when and not whether it will eventually go bust.