AT LEAST 10 000 people who fell prey to fly-by-night pyramid schemes within the last year have filed police reports across the country after being swindled of over US$30 million by scammers, who snatched the cash and skipped the border.
Gullibility has seen families selling houses, vehicles and other properties to invest in pyramid schemes, an old trick used by scammers as far back as the 1920s.
Some marriages collapsed after the scammers vanished with the money, while others have ended up committing suicide since mid-last year.
In some cases, family ties broke down because people invested using funds that were sent from relatives in the Diaspora for other needs.
A pyramid scheme is an illegal and fraudulent investment based on a hierarchical set of network marketing.
New recruits make up the base of the pyramid and provide the funding for so-called returns to the earlier investors or recruits structured above them in the scheme.
A pyramid collapses once the entity running the scheme is unable to sustain itself by failing to attract enough new investors to pay off earlier investors.
In fact the collapse is automatic since the schemes require a growing number of new recruits at each level, usually a significant multiple of the number in the previous level.
While in theory the scheme can continue until the next level requires more people than live on the planet, all obviously collapse long before that point is reached.
Once a pyramid scheme…