Cape Town - While online scheme MMM is growing through its rebooted pyramid in South Africa, the list of people who have fallen victim to the scam also seems to be on the rise, according to feedback from Fin24 users.
MMM froze its platform last year as users failed to feed the bottom of the pyramid with points collected from cash donations from members. A new MMM platform was launched in 2017, with a completely fresh pyramid to work from.
South Africans who lost money in the frozen scheme do not appear to have legal recourse, and many are too embarrassed to speak out. Those who do are being verbally abused on social media and on group messaging forums on WhatsApp, according to a victim who opened up to Fin24.
Here is what Fin24 users - who we will keep anonymous to protect them from abuse - say:
MMM victim #1: R500 000 lost
"I have a lot of information about the history of MMM in South Africa. I was a member also, lost more than R500 000, but also made a considerable amount."
MMM victim #2: R90 000 lost
"Myself and my wife were victims of this scam and when it all started we were hopeful that we will accumulate huge points. We were brave, but rather stupid to be convinced to surrender our policies and donate R90 000 to MMM.
"We had hoped that it was a financial breakthrough where we will build our dream house with those funds. Our recruiter told us it's a donation from other participants with the aim of alleviating poverty, because SA's financial institutions were deceiving us with a low interest rates.
"We have been hopeful that in six months' time we will turn out to be millionaires as per their wealth table. Following this mischievous act we have never been able to save and have lost hope in any scheme. I personally tried Wealth24 and I only managed to withdraw the first R2 000 and I lost around R5 000.
"A stern warning to poor citizens of this country is that they must never allow poverty and desperation to push them to breaking their principles.
"To government: We need your protection in such scams."
MMM victim #3: R2 000 lost
"Yes I also lost R1 000 and my sister also lost R1 000 to MMM. This is a scam really, it's clear now that we won't get our old mavros back."
MMM victim #4: R30 000 lost
"I 'donated' and lost R30 000 in April 2016. The all familiar three to six months explanation followed. As at date hereof, l have not even received the initial capital let alone the interest.
"Surely government had known about MMM and that it was a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme by any other name is a fraudulent criminal act. The fact that government allowed MMM to operate speaks volumes. Is it possible that someone in government benefited?
"It is possible to identify the people who received the 'donations' who must be compelled to pay it back."
MMM victim #5: R15 000 lost
"I have lost R15 000. What a scam."
MMM victim #6: +R40 000 lost
"I have lost R7 000, my sister R20 000, friends R15 000 and others …"
MMM victim #7: R20 000 lost
"I lost R20 000 plus the interest for one month.
"I first invested R500 in March and got my money (plus interest) back at the end of March. I then decided to invest R20 000 at the beginning of April, but as you know everything stopped at the end of April."
MMM attacks Fin24
In response to articles published by Fin24, a user who labels himself a "proud member" of MMM wrote to Fin24, saying:
"I cannot believe you guys at Fin24 are so stupid and ignorant. I mean really?
"So I can write any bullshit story about someone or something I don't like and you will publish it. You guys are fools to publish a story without checking the facts first. The person decided to publish this nonsense are foolish. He or she obviously did not do their homework as if they did they would have known that the letter was malicious.
"I mean really.... the first clue should have been that the so-called writer wants to stay anonymous. You only stay anonymous when you spread lies and have something to hide. That should have been the first red flag."
- Editor's response: MMM victims are not necessarily asking to remain anonymous, but we have decided to to protect them from online attacks. Fin24 calls on all victims to share their stories so that we can start getting an understanding of how much people have lost due to MMM. Have you lost out? Email Fin24 now.
Disclaimer: All letters and comments published in Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.