Yet another MMM scare
. . . as popular Ponzi scheme suspends withdrawals and reopens facility the next day
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.