Yet an­other MMM scare

. . . as pop­u­lar Ponzi scheme sus­pends with­drawals and re­opens fa­cil­ity the next day

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Retha­bile Pitso

MMM Global spooked its mem­bers again this week af­ter the Ponzi scheme sus­pended with­drawals on Sun­day for two weeks, only to re­open the fa­cil­ity the next day.

The sus­pen­sion came af­ter the Bit­coin divi­sion of the scheme, which was founded by con­victed Rus­sian fraud­ster Sergey Mavrodi, col­lapsed last week be­cause it could not pay de­pos­i­tors the promised 100 per­cent re­turns.

While the MMM scheme, in which thou­sands of Ba­sotho from all walks of life have in­vested, re­mains op­er­a­tional, re­ports of the Repub­lic of Bit­coin’s clo­sure sparked anx­i­ety among the pyra­mid scheme’s “donors”.

The un­ease was com­pounded by un­con­firmed re­ports that Mr Mavrodi had gone into hid­ing af­ter an­nounc­ing the Repub­lic of Bit­coin’s clo­sure ear­lier this month. But de­spite this un­cer­tainty, some sub­scribers in Le­sotho and South Africa had vowed to con­tinue “in­vest­ing” in the scheme which of­fers 30 per­cent re­turns per month.

How­ever, MMM Global this week sent mes­sages to its sub­scribers on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms an­nounc­ing the pay­out sus­pen­sion, and at­trib­uted the move to “un­true and bad” me­dia re­ports.

“The sys­tem will not be al­lo­cat­ing any or­ders in the next two weeks be­cause it is pro­tect­ing it­self from panic with­drawals be­cause of all the un­true and bad me­dia re­ports.

“Don’t stress, stay cool and calm, no­body will be los­ing their money,” reads a What­sapp mes­sage sent to the pyra­mid scheme’s mem­bers.

To de­posit money, MMM Global sub­scribers click “Pro­vide Help” (PH) while in the case of a with- drawal they click “Get Help” (GH) and spec­ify the amount.

“For the next two weeks no­body will be able to GH and those who PH will only be al­lo­cated or­ders af­ter two weeks. I sug­gest (that) ev­ery­one can­cel their GHS,” con­tin­ues the mes­sage.

The mes­sage also in­ti­mated the sus­pen­sion was meant to re­plen­ish money lost af­ter a spate of panic with­drawals.

“All the man­agers coun­try­wide is (sic) calm­ing down their team mem­bers, and a mass ac­tion is tak­ing place to build up a long PH queue again,” it says.

It also im­plores sub­scribers to de­posit money “even if it is small” to get the sys­tem “up and run­ning again”.

“I want ev­ery­one to try and make a PH, even if it is small, or if you can’t, do the ef­fort to re­fer other peo­ple as your PH on the ta­ble. I want you to make screen­shots of your can­celled GH and make a screen­shot of your new PH and post it on our group,” the mes­sage states.

“I be­lieve work­ing to­gether we can get the sys­tem up and run­ning again and change lives.”

On the Ponzi scheme’s Team Ac­tion Tak­ers — MMM Face­book page, a per­son us­ing the moniker “Musa — The Gi­ant!” also urges mem­bers to can­cel large with­drawals “for now” and PH “smaller amounts like R5000 etc so it can give a bal­ance in the sys­tem af­ter the panic that (the) me­dia caused”.

“. . . we all must be pa­tient and give peo­ple a chance to calm down in th­ese two weeks. Don’t panic and with­draw all their (sic) money based on one me­dia is­sue which was not true,” the mes­sage reads.

How­ever, on Mon­day MMM’S Face­book page an­nounced that they had re­versed the de­ci­sion to sus­pend with­drawals, although it urged mem­bers to make low GH, “just to keep the com­mu­nity stable”.

A sub­scriber who spoke to this pa­per on con­di­tion of anonymity said she was pre­pared to wait un­til “nor­malcy” was re­stored to the MMM Global sys­tem.

“I have no choice but to wait pa­tiently un­til nor­malcy is re­stored be­cause I have in­vested my money in the scheme,” she said.

“Even though I was alarmed when I first heard the false news that MMM had col­lapsed, I still have faith that I will get my money and will con­tinue to pro­vide help in the fu­ture.

“I have a team of guiders who are pro­vid­ing us with in­for­ma­tion about what is hap­pen­ing, so I be­lieve a so­lu­tion will be found.”

An­other MMM Global mem­ber said he would with­draw his money as soon as the op­tion is avail­able.

“I was per­suaded to in­vest in the scheme by a friend de­spite my ini­tial re­luc­tance,” he said.

“Af­ter a short time, I started to en­joy the ben­e­fits when I in­vested M1 000 in Jan­uary and re­ceived M1 500 af­ter a month. There­after, I in­vested M5 000 and en­joyed more ben­e­fits.”

He said the col­lapse of the Repub­lic of Bit­coin had un­nerved him and he would with­draw his money at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.

“Last week, I got the scare of my life when I heard about the Bit­coin’s clo­sure. I in­vested M9 000 and I am go­ing to take it all as soon as the sys­tem is re­stored,” he said.

South Africa’s Direc­torate for Pri­or­ity Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion (Hawks) has set its sights on the Ponzi scheme by mov­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions of MMM Global from the cy­ber­crime and dig­i­tal foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory to the Com­mer­cial Crime Unit.

Ac­cord­ing to Hawks spokesper­son, Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi, the MMM probe “is a pri­or­ity, be­cause we have to pro­tect the in­hab­i­tants of this country”.

“The pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry was opened fol­low­ing the Na­tional Consumer Com­mis­sion com­plaint and while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still at an early stage, we view this mat­ter in a se­ri­ous light,” Bri­gadier Mu­laudzi told SA pub­li­ca­tion, Fin24 this past week.

The sys­tem will not be al­lo­cat­ing any or­ders in the next two weeks be­cause it is pro­tect­ing it­self from panic with­drawals be­cause of all the un­true and bad me­dia re­ports. Don’t stress, stay cool and calm, no­body will be los­ing their money

THE Face­book page of MMM South Africa which Ba­sotho mem­bers of the pop­u­lar Ponzi scheme also use.

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