World-renowned pyramid builder Sergei Mavrodi has announced that he is relaunching his cryptocurrency, the mavro, on the Ethereum blockchain on the 29th of December, according to Russia Today.
“The time for change is now! We can do a lot!! Financial apocalypse is inevitable,” he wrote.
Sergei Mavrodi is famous for a pyramid scheme called the ‘Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox’, or MMM. In the 1990s he managed to cheat millions of Russians out of an estimated $100 million. At least 50 people committed suicide after losing their money, and he was jailed. Released from prison in 2007, he wasted no time in beginning new schemes, often using Bitcoin.
Time reported on him in 2011 when he launched a scheme called MMM-2011, calling him Russia’s Bernie Madoff. Nairobi News lamented in 2016 that MMM recruiters were operating in Kenya, as did eNCA in South Africa.
According to Russia Beyond, public Facebook pages show that MMM is popular in India (150,000 followers), Nigeria (130,000), the Philippines (60,000), South Africa (30,000) and Brazil (10,000). Mavrodi’s success in the developing world comes through an enterprise called MMM Global, which strongly encourages investors to pay in Bitcoin.
Mavrodi claimed in a 2015 interview with FT Alphaville: “If I refuse using Bitcoin tomorrow, it will fall down.” This may not have been far from the truth, back in the day. The Financial Times reported in November 2015 on a Bitcoin price spike apparently caused by a rush of Chinese people buying bitcoins to join an MMM scheme. At the time, Bitcoin reached its highest in a year as a result of the rush. The article quotes a user: “Today, on October 31, I received 20 per cent interest and [a bonus] as a recommender, for a total of $7,750. I truly experienced the greatness of 3M and the sincerity of all the participants.” Seems legitimate.
In April 2016, a scheme called ‘Republic of Bitcoin’ collapsed in Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Investors would receive mavros in exchange for dollars and bitcoins, and the tokens could be converted back to dollars. A farewell message was publicised, informing investors that they will no longer be able to receive all of their money back. According to The Independent, Mavrodi went into hiding at this point as thousands were feared to have lost their savings.
MMM Global then re-emerged in all of these countries at the beginning of 2017, and is currently spreading rapidly, according to a report by Quartz. In the past, it has promised monthly returns of either 30% or 100%, depending on the locale.
Mavrodi is currently wanted for arrest in Russia.
Russia Today says that in Mavrodi’s newest project, he is offering to replace “outdated” cryptocurrency with his own coin, to be launched on the Ethereum platform. This writer thinks that this sounds like an excellent investment opportunity.