Have you ever been approached by anyone claiming to know a way for you to grow your money overnight with high returns? They offer you a juicy deal that is impossible to resist but also too good to be true. You are told that all you need is a little money to invest, and it will grow into more. They will share success stories of people who invested with them and got huge benefits; they may show you pictures of investors driving expensive cars and travelling to exotic countries to show you that they are legit and you have nothing to worry about, by the time they are done convincing you if you do not part with your money, you may consider it.
The scenario described is how a Ponzi scheme goes. The methods of luring people in are usually the same. Seek out the vulnerable, people who are not well off and promise them riches if they are willing to part with just a little sum of money. There have been so many Ponzi schemes in Nigeria, and each time they rebrand with a new name and creative ways to con people out of their money. MMM, Maria Moses, and in recent times, Crowd 1 are some of the Ponzi schemes that have swindled Nigerians out of their money. You may wonder how so many Nigerians still haven’t caught on to the tactics of these criminals because even when different individuals run them, they use the same playbook. Even when your sixth sense tells you are getting tricked, you brush it off because you put some money in and got more out, so it has to be legit, right? Well, no. How this works is you are being paid with the money of early investors to secure your trust, and then you are encouraged to refer them to family and friends, which may seem noble except they are trying to steal their money too. I have had friends and family fall victim to these schemes not once, and it is saddening because you would think they learned the first time.
In a country where most citizens live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate is high, it is not hard to see why people keep falling for these schemes. Everyone is trying to survive and live comfortably, so when someone promises you a way to achieve this, it is hard not to take it, especially when they deploy influential people you may know to convince you that they are not trying to scam you.
If it is hard for you to spot a Ponzi scheme easily, here are some red flags to look out for;
If you are promised high returns with no risks, think again. Investments with high returns have a lot of risks.
If you don’t understand the investment and you don’t all the information you need, don’t hand them your money.
If they are not registered or licensed, keep your money back in your purse/wallet. That is a bright red flag.
If you have already invested and have difficulty receiving money, don’t put in more money.These are just some of the red flags to look out for when approached by con artists asking you to invest in a scheme.
Remember, if it is too good to be true, you shouldn’t get involved with it. If you see family and friends who don’t know any better considering making an investment with these con artists, discourage them. It is holiday season and Ponzi schemes are very popular around this time of the year, beware of sweet talking criminals who would promise you a 100000 Naira if you invest 10000 with them.