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MMM rides on the wings of belief, greed and a failing economy to flourish in Nigeria despite its negative history and bad publicity as a Ponzi scheme.
Having been banned and cranked down in both China and South Africa, MMM has found a safe haven in Nigeria.
Online money making ventures, whether genuine or not, seem to always find entry and acceptance within the Nigerian populace. Several systems have come and gone, with over 90% of them ending up as well orchestrated scams, yet every new entry finds a way of being embraced by Nigerians.
In January 2016, the Chinese government, through its Central Bank and other sources, warned its citizens to stay away from the MMM programme, saying that MMM China (the local version) is a scam.
In a similar development in South Africa, also in January 2016, the bank accounts of an investor in MMM Global were frozen for violating the Consumers’ Protection Act.
Nevertheless, MMM Global has found a comfortable refuge in Nigeria. So far, the scheme has not experienced any form of resistance, rather it has enjoyed unprecedented subscription from citizens who are desperate to make money.
Cointelegraph asked Nigerians why they embrace MMM despite its history and reputation.
Olumide claims to be a 100+ guider and an online consultant for MMM Nigeria. He insists that negative publications about MMM is a conspiracy of some individuals who do not want others to prosper.
Olumide says it is normal for any viable and reliable venture to encounter resistance.
“It is normal, any good setup must have some opposition. But frankly, MMM is the best community to belong to. All the testimonies you see on the website are real. MMM is a community of people who have agreed to come together in other to help each other. When you join and make a donation to help someone, you will earn a 30% reward on you investment and get back your initial capital.”
The founder and owner of Coffee Coloured Books, Hetty Hembadoon Orkuma, thinks it is a function of the prevailing belief system among other things. She says:
“I think it has a lot to do with a belief in supreme powers bequeathing people with luck (riches) they didn't work for. Nigeria's huge population too is a factor as there always seems to be a fresh market to capture at any given time. Ponzi schemes start like every other pyramid scheme, a few people will get fabulous rewards they then become the 'go-to' proof that the scheme pays and lots of people get roped in. By the time people start to think this is a scam the scheme quietly disappears only to return in another form or be replaced by another one with a claim that they are the real McCoy.”
An ex-banker with United Bank for Africa, Onyeka Ukasoanya, thinks it all boils down to greed and illiteracy. She says that the outrageous returns usually promised by such schemes seem to blindfold subscribers, such that they eventually do not study the products very well. Ukasoanya also thinks that illiteracy is a huge factor. Most people who have very little knowledge about the online environment would automatically assume that whatever comes from the internet is truth.
A lecturer at Baze University Abuja, Zainab Oiza Adeiza, expressed her personal skepticism towards such schemes, but acknowledged the fact that Nigerians have a tendency for going crazy over them.
Adeiza says that with the economic situation rapidly going from bad to worse, any option that has the potential to provide an extra source of income is a very welcome idea to most Nigerians.
“But truth be told, most of these products are ponzi schemes, where the actual money is earned by the early subscribers. The latter participants at some point begin to live on hope until the entire system either fizzles away or crashes,” she says.
Adeiza concludes by warning that those who lose money in such schemes only have themselves to blame, emphasizing that any system that promises to deliver such great profits for virtually doing nothing should be approached with serious caution.
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