Beware of Ponzi Schemes

Beware of Ponzi Schemes

Monday, September 5, 2016 8:54 am


By Francis Oronsaye

I saw a press release by the Securities and Exchanges Commission alerting the public on the Ponzi Scheme called MMM. Meanwhile, I heard they are a Russian company that was in South Africa till it “pianted,” leaving a one-liner on its site informing “investors” it had closed, leaving with all their victims’ money.

For me, it is what the Hausas call “Ihu bayan hari” or what the binis refer to as “clasping the legs when the fart has escaped”.

This scheme has been on for a while and I have received several invitations/links to “invest” in the scheme. Firstly , I no get “oseka” money. Secondly, I am always skeptical of any investment that offers astronomical ROIs (Returns on Investment), especially when you cannot clearly define what that scheme does to be able to afford such fantastic ROIs. Ab initio, even before SEC’s warning, I had been looking at the scheme “one kain (Goodluck Jonathan, 2010).

In the 90’s , for those of us who grew up in the ancient city of Benin, we had “Planwell” , “Goldland”, “Arise and Shine” ati bebelo (and so on and so forth). Even as young as I was, I wondered how a business managed to double your investment (100 % ROI ) without a clearly-defined investment outline.

One fateful morning, kaboom went everything. As if working in sync and as if they had received a memo, they all packed up and vamoosed. The weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth (Felix Duke, Ft Lt Shotgun, 1997) that followed was of monumental proportion. Some people were said to have committed suicide, some took “osusu” (contributions) from “meetings” to invest, some took loans from banks, some took the money “oga put in their care for business” and invested same in the scheme, some sold properties, some invested their gratuities because it was too mouth-watering to let go. Only people like our Odionwere, Pa Francis Oronsaye (my father)refused to invest, despite all entreaties to that effect. My dad (I think I learnt that from him) is always skeptical of investments with fantastic profits. He would always say when you are too greedy, you fall into the hands of fraudsters.

After that era (around 93 or so), other Wonder Banks came up in the same City and they still got “magas”.

We never learn, do we? It would interest you that in a short while from now, another scheme would come up and still get victims. Despite the warning by the SEC which has been up for a while now, people are still investing in the scheme. For those who have invested, you might as well consider your money gone.

See how these guys work. They come with a scheme to give you a fantastic ROI within a short while. They have some guinea pigs who would initially try investing with not so huge amounts of money. They get paid wonderfully and begin the evangelism to spread the message to people. These same people seeing the scheme worked, may come back to invest with higher amounts and may be lucky to get a profit. Soon, they gather enough magas and kaboom, they are off, leaving in their trial, anguish and tears.

Nigerians have a knack for reaping hugely, with little or no efforts. Go to the betting/lotto terminals and see people who hope to make it big from lotteries. Funny thing is, they have huge plans for money they have not yet won (cinikin biri a kan itace).

I am also looking at Helping Hand International (H2I) “one kain”(Goodluck op cit). The kind of ROI they offer is amazing, yet I do not know of any business they are into. I usually do not pity people who lose their money in such schemes (call me a sadist, o gbasara gi).

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One Comment

  • NP Okolie says:

    Yes, I remember those ponzi schemes in Benin way back in the early nineties. I think Goldland was by far the largest, although Planwell was the pioneer outfit. I recall that one Professor who came as external examiner invested his entire honorarium in the scheme, and lost everything. However, many people benefited, especially those who invested early. Such things are expected in a severely depressed economy such as ours, made much worse by unprecedented level of unemployment. It has one advantage though: reduction in crime, due to financial empowerment of otherwise criminally-minded fellows. Indeed, in the days of Planwell and Goldland, many Benin residents left their house and car doors open at night and slept soundly.

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