Man loses N4m capital, sons’ savings in collapsed Ponzi scheme
By Job Osazuwa
The love and peace that once reigned in the family of Osakpamwan Amieomwanghi is at the moment under threat. And the cause of the crisis in his family is the huge investment that the father and his two sons risked on the Ponzi scheme – Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM).
The head of the family, Mr. Amieomwanghi, who lives at Evbuotubu community in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State, had on the second week of November 2016, pledged N2 million on the platform. And on November 28, he had paid the money to six different accounts as directed by the operators of the scheme.
He told Daily Sun that he had heard about the online scheme two months before then but he blatantly kicked against it and called it a modern wonder bank. He said he later changed his mind when his close friend, who invested N4 million on the scheme received a profit of N1.4 million within a month.
His friend’s financial success, it was gathered, spontaneously lured the 59-year-old man to stake his money on the scheme. He told the reporter that he wanted some fast cash to expand his provisions business and to also make the 2016 Christmas celebration a very memorable one for him and his family.
The troubled man, until he embraced the online gambling, was dealing in wholesales provision business in a popular market in Benin City. He was said to be a successful businessman, one envied by his colleagues in the market. Regrettably, the tide has changed after he ventured into the Ponzi scheme, as he now hardly opens his shop due to his inability to order goods from his suppliers. He told the reporter that he had become a laughing stock in the midst of his colleagues, especially those who knew about his MMM predicament.
Apart from his own money that was invested, it was learnt that Mr. Amieomwanghi, also persuaded his two sons to invest in the scheme. The two children bought into the idea sold by their father and risked N1 million each. Thus the entire investment of the Amieomwanghis in the scheme was N4 million.
The sons’ investment is actually the cause of the family crisis.
Less than two weeks after making the payment, the bubble burst. There came the devastating news, suspending payment even for people that were due to be paid. Initially, it was gathered that the home of the Amieomwanghis was turned into a theatre of war, as the two sons lambasted their father for leading them astray.
Amieomwanghi said: “Three of the account owners that I paid to were calling me, as if the scheme was about to crash. I was running around because the system gave me 48 hours to make all the payments. At a particular point, l wanted to pull out and let them block me from participating in the scheme, but l didn’t listen to myself. I was carried away with the N700, 000 gain that l was supposed to have made within one month.
“It is painful because that was virtually all the money – capital and profit – that l had. Watching it going down the drain has been giving me sleepless nights. I have become a prayer warrior for the scheme not to crash, as many had forecast. Waiting for January 14 was like waiting forever. I can’t remember how many nights I couldn’t sleep because of the money. I am not a gambler and l hate gambling, but l can’t explain how l fell into this.
“l wanted to risk it only once and stop. I am praying that it bounces back, and once l get my money, l am off. I am begging my children to forgive me and to understand that my intention was to make them financially better. If I had suspected that the operators would suspend people’s accounts that soon, l wouldn’t have put one naira into it let alone asking my children to do same.”
Investigation revealed that it was the persistent intervention of his wife, Mrs. Amienomwanghi, that was able to calm their two children.
Up till this moment, the woman said she was still praying and hoping that MMM should return so that her 32-year-old marriage might not also crash. She told the reporter that her two sons had relaxed with the belief that the scheme would soon bounce back, as the operators promised all participants.
She blamed her husband and her sons for not confiding in her before staking their money in the Ponzi scheme. She said she was only told after they had paid out the money they pledged.
“My home is in trouble at the moment. If the online scheme fails to return, as it promised it is only God that can save me. My sons had never been rude to their father until MMM came into our home. For over a week, the boys were not in good terms with their father. They were so bitter and every member of the family saw it. Four million naira in this recession is not a joke. Since December, feeding has been a problem for us.
“One of my husband’s friends told me that my husband said he might simply run away to the village if MMM finally crashes. That is why I am so afraid and confused about the whole thing. My home has been so peaceful but that is now history. MMM has turned my children against their father.”
All disciples of MMM have been thrown into panic and confusion, as the scheme’s administrators, on December 13, announced the decision to freeze all confirmed participants’ money due for withdrawal for one month.
In essence, all members’ accounts due to be paid after having ‘provided help’ to another person since the last month were suspended. Since then, they had no access to request for payment till January 14, 2017. The reasons given for the sudden decision is that the scheme was experiencing heavy workload and also needed to calm the frenzy which had arisen from constant criticisms from the public and media.
Many observers, however, believe the new development is an indication that MMM is on course to crash, as many had previously warned.
An observer wrote: “Using South Africa as a case study, their site crashed and all accounts frozen. That marked the end of the road. This might be the end of MMM in Nigeria too.”
Talks about the popularity of the famous money-doubling scheme among Nigerians often sparks a social media fight, heating up the debate over the subject. Participants in the scheme as well as antagonists are often locked in a war of words. Interestingly, the debates often see Nigerians, speaking about MMM from the intellectual, mundane and even ignorant point of views.
Many have traced the overwhelming acceptance of the the Ponzi, as a reflection of the hardship in Nigeria, whereby participants saw it as a quick escape from the current economic crisis, plaguing the country.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) had warned Nigerians not to participate in MMM before the scheme announced the suspension. But even now, many Nigerians remain optimistic that the scheme would soon bounce back and those that had paid in money would get their money back.
However, it seems the participants will have to wait some more. January 14 has since come and gone and though MMM has lifted the suspension, there is still no sign that it would resume payments.