Was it just two short weeks ago I ranted about Ponzi and other get rich quick schemes; with the unique feature of these individuals not only looking like they needed help more than the people they were trying to lure into the scheme, but also being so magnanimous that while they were yet to benefit from participation in the Ponzi; they wanted to bring in others to come and enjoy what they were (yet to be) enjoying?
Well, in case you missed it, social media Naija branch went ablaze the past few days; notably with the collapse of yet another Ponzi scheme birthed and created by someone with the gift of gab; as well as the ability to persuade the fool and his money to part as easily as the Bible itself predicted.
Eatrich is allegedly an agricultural produce investment firm; with no clear direction as to what and how it was making money from agriculture which every normal human knows to be subject to seasonal and cyclical trends; not to mention force majeure.
Flood, for instance, could severely threaten livestock; poultry, crops or any other form of agricultural business any one was involved in. Ditto drought, pest infestation, government policies and a host of other unforeseen events.
Where then would this ROI come from?
Enter the social media influencers.
Most of whom had not tested this business and found it viable. They did not do any research into the business to ensure it was not only as profitable as the promoters promised; but was viable enough to continue to pay interest to investors; with a clear-cut exit plan from crowd-sourcing equity. And this will continue to baffle me about the gullibility; or perhaps the naïveté of the people who continue to get suckered into these schemes.
What are the long term plans of the promoters of these schemes?
Assume someone takes a million naira from you and promises you 25% ROI. Is this return going to be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annually? Now let us take the most mid-line possibility – that this ROI would be paid quarterly.
This means that in one year, the promoters would have paid by way of interest; 100% of the funds they received to inject into the business. What would be their own profit from venturing? For whatever business generates such high returns; it is safe to assume that another 100% would be retained by the promoters.
If business runs at the same pace for another year; they can now afford to not only pay investors their interest; but to also return their capital injection to them and still have enough profit to now run without needing as much capital or at best; only occasional injection of external and well defined and specified funds, on a “as needed” basis.
Now, these social media influencers do not ask these questions or make these calculations. Most of them for a large part were hitherto sellers of “organic” skin whitening creams; bone straight hair attachments, drop shippers, home cooks and motivational speakers.
No financial background – mostly financial illiterates. Therefore, they could not only not subject a business proposal they were being asked to substitute their integrity for to basic financial sensitivity analyses to ensure it was viable; they could also not read financial analysis and business projections and predict when a transaction sounded too good to be true.
For most of them, their first contacts with the words “ROI” and “investments” was when they were contacted by these Ponzi masterminds to be their brand ambassadors and/or influencers.
Armed with catch-phrases, feel good stories of how they nearly bought the Empire State Building; but for the fact that they did not invest with ABC and therefore had no ROI to play around with; they bamboozled their way through social media, luring people with promises of huge interest payouts; as well as flashing flamboyant lifestyles that could not be linked to any particular source other than the money they had crowd-sourced; but which was now being converted to private “bottomless enjoyment” funds.
So, here we are once again, right back where we started from…
Another Ponzi scheme goes burst with the promoter allegedly on the run; while the social media influencers who convinced naive “investors” to withdraw their money from the banks; placing it in the hands of someone who looked like he desperately needed a warm meal and a hug.
But guess what! Don’t cry for “Argentina”. The main people who are usually scammed by all these get rich quick schemes have a pattern…
- They are very brave
- They are very greedy
Plus, the combination of bravery and greed in a single individual is a very lethal combination. Trust me on that. So many Ponzi schemes have come and gone in the unregulated finance and investment segment; a sector of the economy that always manages to fly just under the radar of the CBN; the BOFID laws and the financial sector regulatory bodies until they go belly up; yet each scheme that collapses always manages to go down with either the exact same set of people it’s predecessors went down with; or a different group who believe that their own “case is different”.
And even as one Ponzi scheme goes down, another pops up somewhere; where the same group of people would pepper threads were people are advising caution to warn the advisors against “pulling another man’s business down”.
Financial literacy, sadly, is one area where we appear to be seriously trailing behind.
At the end of the day, we have no other option than to, once again; wish Godspeed to everyone who is willing to pour their hard-earned money into untested investments because of promises of overwhelming ROIs; or their fascination with the flamboyant lifestyles of the promoters and advisers of the schemes.
Just like we told you all the other day: please feel free to get rich alone. Enjoy all the perks alone. Have fun. But when it is time to cry, also be prepared to cry alone…
The only empathy you will get from us are constant reminders that we told you so; a fool and his money are easily parted; as well as the fact that you are showing signs that you haven’t learnt your bitter lesson yet.
So, until the next scheme crashes with maximum wailing from “investors”, we wish you all “love and light”.