MMM freezes funds

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. . . as Ponzi scheme resets system

Staff reporters

MEMBERS of the MMM Global Ponzi scheme stand to lose thousands of maloti after their accounts were frozen for two weeks and the mavros points system it operates on reset due to a lack of new money entering the system.

MMM Global this week sent messages to its subscribers on various social media platforms saying the freezing of the funds was precipitated by the “media panic” that had sparked anxiety and put off prospective members.

A Ponzi scheme pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors and thus requires an endless supply of new members to remain operational.

The anxiety had been prompted by the collapse last month of the Bitcoin division of the scheme after it failed to pay depositors the promised 100 percent returns. However, the MMM scheme in which thousands of Basotho from all walks of life have invested, had remained operational, until the latest raft of changes.

MMM Global was founded by convicted Russian fraudster Sergey Mavrodi who was jailed for four-and-a-half years in the 1990s for defrauding 10 000 investors through a similar Ponzi scheme in his home country.

According to a message posted on the Team Action Takers – MMM Facebook page on Saturday, the scheme was under attack from “crazy investigations and oppression” in the mass media.

As result, it said, all mavros (deposits) from before 30 April 2016 were frozen and were now called “old mavros” adding that “any operations with them are impossible”.

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

“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.

“All this, of course is not very nice, but it’s not the end of the world. We will quickly pay off ‘old’ Mavro debts, no doubt about it. You just have to wait.”

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

On another Facebook page, MMM administrators said they would not allow GH for two weeks “because we (are) still updating the system”.

“If you requested any GH and your order is not out yet, may u (sic) kindly cancel the requests because you will not be given any order for next two weeks,” the message says.

“To all members who had Mavros before 1 May 2016, your total amount of Mavros that where confirmed will be added together and make one amount of Mavros and it will be old Mavros.

“Old Mavros may not grow until you get automatic GH. After you get automatic GH, kindly make PH with the total amount you received so that your Mavros will start to grow again.”

According to the administrators, the MMM scheme was not collapsing but they were merely “fixing the system”. They also urge members to recruit more people “to help the system to recover quickly”.

“MMM is not crashing, but we are fixing the system to recover and operate as normal as before. Hope you all understand and I would like to apologise for (the) inconvenience. Please recruit, recruit, recruit and PH, PH, PH to help the system to recover quickly.”

However, the latest changes seem to have unfazed local members of the pyramid scheme.

A local MMM guider, who has about 100 people under her watch, told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the members, who are referred to as downliners (DL), were continuing as normal.

“From what I have observed, there is not much of a change. My DLs are still engaging in PH right now. The only difference I noted was last month when the first reports about the collapse of MMM started. At the time, people panicked and withdrew their monies, but not anymore,” the guider, who requested anonymity, said.

“People are no longer paying attention to media reports anymore. Considering the fact that many people were withdrawing moneys and with few prepared to make donations, it was impossible for the system to function normally. So it is understandable that they have stopped withdrawals for a while in order to balance the system.”

She said MMM had made a positive impact in many Basotho’s lives as some had built houses and bought vehicles from the proceeds of the scheme, “which they would not have been able to do without it”.

A local member of the network expressed disappointment with the new changes.

“I cannot deposit any more money into the system without any guarantee that the system will recover. For now, I will wait to see what happens,” he said.

Another subscriber said she “donated” M6 000 into the scheme, but had lost hope of recovering the money as she repeatedly failed to make a withdrawal over the past few weeks.

“The only chance I have of getting the money back is if new donations are made,” she said.

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