WHEN I heard about the death of the Mavrodi Mundial Money box (MMM) man Sergei Mavrodi, on Monday, I was surprised to learn that he died of heart attack. But I was shocked when I pondered the news again and it dawned on me that the guy had a heart.
I exhaled in wonder: So, the guy really had a heart? If he had a heart, it must be one of the strongest ones because a normal human with his antecedent would have had his heart kaput long before last Monday. Or was it Amadioha, Sango, Ogwugwu, Ogun or Aiyelala that tarried a while before striking him? In fact, what else could have killed him if not a heart attack or a strike from the unseen hands of a long juju?
News reports of the Moscow based Russian newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, Mavrodi who founded the MMM serial of financial pyramid schemes died of heart attack in Moscow. He was rushed to a city hospital from a bus stop on Sunday night after he felt pain in the chest. He died on Monday morning at the age of 62.
Founder of the Russian company, MMM, in 1989 the Ponzi scheme raked in people’s money and caused upheaval in the East European country, recording many clients’ death on its trail until it was shut by government in 1994.
In 2007, a Russian court convicted Mavrodi for defrauding 10,000 investors out of 110 million to the tune of $4.3 million even as he claimed he was not the beneficiary of what he described as ‘donations’ that the scheme receives and that he never lived flamboyantly so he cannot be called a conman who swindled people of their hard-earned-money. In fact, the lifestyle alibi and claim that MMM is not a business but a mutual donation program which is not criminalised by any law actually passed because he was only convicted later of tax fraud not obtaining by false pretence.
After waiting for a calculated while, the МММ which Mavrodi founded with two others, Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Olga Melnikova moved stealthily across continents to other parts of the world such as Nigeria where, 2005 through 2016, it became the biggest money-move-around conduit and ended abruptly, December 2016 through early 2017 after clearing the savings and borrowings of many middle class homes. Wikipedia cites MMM as the largest Ponzi scheme of all time, estimating that about 10 million people lost their savings in the scheme.
The Nigerian narrative of MMM is peculiar. The last semester of 2016 was its climax. The MMM mania reached to such giddy pulse that it was the prime talk in almost every home. Ignoring repeated warnings by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), the National Assembly and finance experts, Nigerians trooped into the Ponzi which promised (and paid at early stage) money deposited with 30 per cent interest after 30 days, in tens of millions. It was such a maddening frenzy the people started taking loans and investing in the scheme. Keepers of people’s monies including treasurers of clubs and churches; thrift collectors; salary officers committed worker’s salaries; contractors too deposited project monies therein. Even students paid in their school fees.
It was to such an alarming level that schools cried out. The authorities of Osun State University, Osogbo for example, once let out that most of their students owed the school over two billion naira, being tuition fees they were to pay the institution which were mostly diverted to MMM.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Labode Popoola, told reporters in a media briefing that a large number of the students diverted their school fees to MMM.
No wonder the feeling across Nigeria upon the newsbreak of Mavrodi’s death. The Mavrodi-haters were in their element in social media once they heard of the death. A peak in twitter a bit of the feeling. Some were rye, some terse, some whimsical.
On Twitter, the user, Chi Onuorah @mererah wrote: “When I hear them saying “RIP Sergey Mavrodi”, and I remember my 42k lost in MMM.”
Akanbi Oke, @youngwhalexy even wondered why anybody should shed tears. He wrote: ”Sergey Mavrodi died early hours of today and his Families (sic) are weeping.”
Mr Ayobami Chimezie, @DacapableAyo commended the arbitrating deities, Amadioha and Sango for doing the job. “So finally confirmed it that Sergey Mavrodi is dead,” he asked and concluded thusly: “Nigerians!!!. Amadioha and Sango double barrel strike for the man heart. Chai!”
Following which the user, Buhari’s sister @DaminaboEric twitted: “MMM, Sergey Mavrodi founder dies of attack in Moscow… So Amadioha Can Kill Someone In Moscow?” PostMaster @O_ssai posted: “Sergey Mavrodi, founder of MMM has been scamming people all over the world without repercussions… just small money he scammed in Nigeria last year…. Dude is dead now.”
Sochyma, @Sochima27 claimed quirkily that “Sergey Mavrodi is afraid of Nigeria coming to Russia for World Cup this June.”
While Mainland Records @mainlandrecord posted a message dubbed ‘Jamb 2019 Question’ which quizzed: “What did Sergey Mavrodi die of?
a) Spiritual attack
b) Counter attack
c) Heart attack
d) Arm robbers attack
e) All of the above.”
From the jokanola bj @BjJokanola came the message: “If you have been planning to go to Russia because of Sergey Mavrodi, worry no more. Ogun, Sango and Amadioha have done the job for you.”
And O$@$ @Theofficialosas wrote: “Nigerians who died because of MMM waiting for Sergey Mavrodi at the gates of hell like.”
Sure, reading the social media posts made light a serious story. But does that mean Nigerians now have their heads cleared of the Mavrodi mannia? I do not think so. Mavrodi is held in some quarters as a smart con who found gullible suckers in Nigeria. He belonged to the ilk of Yellow Kid Weil, Oscar Hartzell, Serge Stavisky among others who had guts and wit to pull a wool on the eyes of society. Their forte is spotting the weakness of a society and the loose ends of the ethics and law.
Con men excel in playing on the minds of the majority who are deluded with the notion that working hard does not pay well enough hence his MMM negatively prospered on the placebo of paying 30 per cent, an interest which no bank can deliver and delivering on the promise monthly until it struck. The placebo was a bait to draw the investors to become more greedy and pay more and lure more gullible ones, which most of us are to join the bandwagon. The result as always was what Nigerians witnessed in December 2016. Should a Mavrodi emerge again, he will still have his way even as many in Nigeria would claim to be conversant with what is called ‘419’ or ‘OBT,’ ‘wash-wash’ and others.
In a land where asking questions is becoming extinct and there is growing trend of faith that makes people think that one day God will bring free money or money made through lesser stress, a hound like Mavrodi will always have his prey.