Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, a 1920’s businessman who successfully persuaded tens of thousands of clients to invest their funds with him. Ponzi’s scheme promised a specific amount of profit after a specific amount of time through the purchase and sale of discounted postal reply coupons. Instead, he was using new money invested to pay off old obligations.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often promise to invest your money and generate high returns with little or no risk. But in many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters do not invest the money.
It is a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a non-existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors. Companies that engage in a Ponzi scheme focus their energy into attracting new clients to make investments, otherwise their scheme will become illiquid.
This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers. Both Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes eventually bottom out when the flood of new investors dries up and there isn’t enough money to go around. At that point, the schemes unravel.
The largest Ponzi scheme was carried out by Bernie Madoff, conning thousands of investors out of billions of dollars. Historically, Ponzi schemes in Nigeria were common in the 1980s and early 1990s. The earliest in the recall were the Umana-Umana investment platform in Port Harcourt and Calabar, the Planwell scheme in Edo State, and the Nospecto in Lagos.
In Nigeria, last year, the Director of the Bank Examination Department, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC), Michael Oladele, has disclosed that no less than N911.45 billion has been lost to various Ponzi schemes and related frauds across the country in the last 23 years.
In most of these Ponzi schemes like 86z the lure will be promised big profits, and the amount of profit that exists is also very unreasonable, not infrequently there are also those who dare to offer profits above 50%.
Wale*, a 23 year old student of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State disclosed that he lost over seven hundred thousand of his business money to this platform.
The student who is now in 400 level said he had started his food selling business since he was in the Polytechnic in the same state and this had given his business enough space and time to grow into what it has become now.
Although he decided to keep the name of his brand undisclosed, he said that it generated so much profit for him and helped him in paying his school fees and that of his siblings as well, making him the sole breadwinner of the family after his father died.
Despite his huzzle and buzzle, Wale never disputed that he wanted a quick and more money that would boost his business and make him live the kind of life he wants to live. His shining light eventually faded off when he decided to play the risk game of getting himself into this business even after he knew it was a devil in disguise.
Days after deliberation, he concluded and spoke to those who lured him into the business about this decision. They weighed every chance of it being one but all of his friends were cashing out big from it and he couldn’t wait any longer but to join the league.
86z became popular from referrals by the users of the betting platforms and that was also the way Wale got involved in the money laundering scheme. It paid 3% of the amount invested and that way was mouth watering to all who heard about it.
Wale revealed that prior to the time that the site was shut down, he had gotten over five hundred thousand naira as interest and that had made him put his entire savings there. The plan was to save it till the end of the year when he would be graduating from school so he could use it to enlarge his business before his vessel of fortune fell into the bottom of the ocean.
Unknown to him that the swindlers were getting ready to fold up when he put in his hard earned money and even the money he had proposed to use for his school fees in his last semester. The shock came and he almost lost his life in depression for losing all he had in heaven and earth.
While his journey of grass to grace crumbled, Wale explained that it was just God and the help of one of his friend who borrowed him #80,000 so as to start up his food business again is what gave him the hope he needed and to him, that was the lifeline and what saved him from depression, after the tricky experience, he went back to his drawing board.
Just like Wale, Tosin Ogbe of Ekiti State University is another student who shared her story. The young lady revealed that she was also introduced to the business through one of her friends.
“The fact is that sometimes, the reality of life pushes anyone to go to their limit and do what is crazy, not minding the consequences. Of course, I knew it was a dicey game which I can lose and win, so I got in and had one of the best lessons of my life.
“Even though, I didn’t put in so much money, I still felt pained and bitter because I hate losing my money, I do work for my money, so I don’t play with people with my money, but on this occasion, I just fell like since I know so many of my friends doing it and they are sharing wonderful testimonies, let me also give it a try. Unfortunately, it ended in tears for me.”