Nigerians have recently been introduced to the popular MMM scheme. The controversial scheme who most “savvy investors” refer to as either a ponzi or pyramid scheme has garnered a lot of support from those who participate in it. Operators of the scheme in Nigeria have also not been ashamed to defend it vehemently despite the warning of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it did not recognize such a scheme.

It’s quite easy to understand why a lot of people defend this scheme. Firstly, it is highly profitable and very easy to understand. All you need to do is deposit money into someone’s account and then wait patiently for one more for someone else to deposit money into yours with an interest of about 30% in one month. No investment or business out there can beat such return.

Bua group

The second reason of course is the fear that it could actually blow up if the media and critics in the social media continue to write negatively about it. This is because the scheme relies heavily on new incomers to sustain so the more circumspect  people are to invest, the higher the rate of failure for the scheme which could mean millions of naira lost for early investors.

So what does it look like if this scheme fails? Luckily it is easy to find out. MMM is new in Nigeria but not new in Africa or indeed the world. A trip down to South Africa provides us an idea of what could happen if things go bad and early investors stop coming.

Just a few months ago (March 2016), MMM crashed in South Africa, forcing the scheme to reset. As such, members of the scheme who had invested and were awaiting their returns lost millions of rands. According to this article from a South African Website Fin24. Here is the full article as culled from the website including comments from frustrated investors.

MMM resets system causing panic among members

Cape Town – MMM SA members stand to lose thousands of rands after their accounts were frozen and the mavros points system was reset due to a lack of new money entering the alleged pyramid scheme.

Anonymous leaders of the South African wing of the alleged Russian pyramid scheme blamed “media panic” for the reboot on April 30.

MMM SA told members: “We have to declare a restart and start all over again. We have no choice.”

MMM members have voiced their concern on social media, with one claiming he is set to lose R30 000.

Facebook user BM Abinet said the last time he checked he had 35 798 mavros (which is equivalent to the rand currency), “but now the system says my old mavros is 5 798, so where’s my R30 000?”

MMM SA told members that all mavros from before April 30 were frozen and were now called “old mavros” and that “any operations with them are impossible”.

“With the development of the system, we will send 10% of total input to pay back the ‘old’ mavros.

“According to the experience of other countries, we can definitely say that in the normal course of events all the old mavros debts will be paid off in about six months.”

It said “new mavros (mavros bought from the moment of this announcement) are introduced. You can use them on a common basis to ‘acquire’ and ‘withdraw’ them at any time.”

“We will quickly pay off ‘old’ mavro debts, no doubt about it. You just have to wait.”

The same message was given to another alleged SA pyramid scheme Kipi, which last paid out “dreams” to its members in 2015. The system is very similar to MMM, but instead of “donations”, it uses “dreams”.

Kipi, also known as Mydeposit241, is one of several schemes under investigation by the National Consumer Commission. Others include WorldVentures, Make Believe, NMT Investments, Instant Wealth Club, Sikhese (Pty) Ltd and Wealth Creation Club.

Facebook user NK Njokweni wrote in April 2016: “Talk about Kipi because people are waiting for their money since December.”

MMM SA members are promised between 30% and 40% in returns for paying other people money on request. This donation model has been described as a pyramid scheme by most financial experts and is being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) as such.

It has also being described as a stokvel, which it is not, according to the National Stokvel Association of SA. It is not regulated by the SA Reserve Bank or any other regulator, so members who lose money won’t be able to seek justice.

However, the Hawks has requested the public to report the scheme to the police should they have a complaint. This will assist them in their investigation.

Facebook user EN Zamadlomo said: “What’s up with MMM with inability to pay our money, but want us to provide help how? Is MMM going down?”

Facebook user IO Oluhle said: “Something is not right. What’s going on? Where is our money? My dashboard is wiped clean.”

Facebook user I Maja said: “Mine too is wiped out. MMM systems have been frozen. Is it the end of MMM?”

Facebook user DM Luzitu said: “How am I going to take back my money, what am I going to tell people who get in behind me? Please help me.”

Responding to users querying what had happened to their promised future “donations”, a MMM member said: “To all members who requested ph (provide help) and they did not make any payment, your orders will be automatically cancelled because they are restarting from old mavros to new. So please if your request to ph is cancelled kindly make new ph with same amount or more again.

“We will not gh (get help) for two weeks because of we still updating the system. If you requested any gh and your order is not out yet, may you kindly cancel the requests because you will not be given any order for the next two weeks.

“All this is because of the long queue of gh that was requested after the panic pause caused by media … so now the system is restarting again for the better of our people.

“MMM is not crashing, but we are fixing the system to recover and operate as normal as before.”

In a line that reveals the potential pyramid scheme nature of MMM, the user said: “please recruit, recruit, recruit and ph, ph, ph to help the system to recover quickly”.


Part of this article originally appeared on Fin24.


  1. Oga chacha…i dont jnow what yu guys mean by ponzi scheme. I havent found a single disgruntled mmm participant who lost his investment. Ive followed comments on the sec warning published by punch, and its amazing that nigerians love the scheme and can even defend it openly. Banks may love it, theyre seeing more transfer gains. The only ones to hate it is sec and he likes…cos noones buying shares and t bills and bonds anymore.
    Teuth is, our economy is in recession, those hings are worthless investment schemes. I started buying shares when i was 16, yet to be admitted to the university. I drank garri to save out and buy a few thousand units of oceanic bank, only for mrs ibru and co to flex the money. Pray tell me what sec did to me, or did to help me recoup my investment. Pray tell me if we ever get tax rturns in this country like other nations get. Nowonder sec was the first to publish a self serving article full of platitudes as if to say they love the investing public so dearly. Every good stuff sells itself. My cash is more at risk with sec and their shitty portfolios than with mmm.
    I have examined he mmm model, you have im sure. The only thing government can have on it is that it doesnt pay taxes directly. Not its functionality, or legality, or what have you.
    On ur show on one fm like that, you did say mmm will crash…well, life crashes sir, as well as other legal financial institutions around d world. But if it does, it wouldnt be that mmm ran with peoples money. It will be that the likes of you and SEC created a panic so bad that people stopped providing help and thus others cannot get help. It will be that YOU and SEC intentionally crashed it for your selfish reasons, cos it brings ur organisation no direct benefit, and not that nigerians grew disenfranchised by themselves or got robbed by the system. Isusu contribution system and cooperatives happens in all companies in this nation, we have not bothered hem with the sort of destructive publicity we are giving mmm just for selfish reasons! So quit telling us like you care.
    You better find a way to write about how mmm can be legalised and boosted in nigeria to further benefit people than trying to tear down such an open and transparent system that nigerians have willingly embraced. Period.

    Mark my words again, mmm may fall, but it will not be because they stole from the people. It will rather be because folks like you chose to bring the system to its knees with YOUR DESTRUCTIVE PUBLICITY AND HALF TRUTHS!

  2. Keep deceiving yourself. MMM’s end is near. Its a scheme that pays old investors with new investors money. If it crashes when u get paid,u say thank God I got my money. What about the person that paid you. The truth is it will crash one day and people will loose money. Some people have the effrontery to call other people into it knowing that it is not a reliable system founded by a fraudster, carefully duping people. Go and read his story. Have u thought about it..if everybody gets on MMM and there are no more new investors, with which money will the old ones be paid? The gain are getting is clouding your judgment. Moreover… The blog is talking about MMM incident in South Africa not Nigeria

  3. Dimeji. You just have to keep Quite. You don’t teach people what to do with their money. Just sleep if you can risk. And my you the biggest Risk in entire Life is not to take any risk. Period!

  4. Dimeji. You just have to keep Quite. You don’t teach people what to do with their money. Just sleep if you can risk. And my you the biggest Risk in entire Life is not to take any risk. Period!

  5. This is MMM .The Monkey Money Madness! (MMM)
    Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced that he would buy monkeys for N100 each. The villagers seeing that there were so many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
    The man bought thousands at N100 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts. He further announced that he would now buy at N200. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to N250 but the supply of monkeys became so little that it took much effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch one.
    The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at N500! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on his behalf.
    In the absence of the man, his assistant told the villagers: ”Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that my OGA has bought from you, I will sell them to you at N350 and when my OGA returns from the city, you can sell it to him at N500”.
    The villagers squeezed out all their HARD EARNED savings and bought all the monkeys. The most greedy ones among them even sold their lands to purchase many MONKEYS, hoping to make a huge profit without labor.
    They never saw the man or his assistant. Only monkeys everywhere!
    Welcome to MMM. The world of Monkeys!
    Be wise

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