The recent blacklisting of QuestNet as a pyramid scheme was a wake up call; like our mothers told us “if something looks too good to be true, then don’t fall for it.” Some of us didn’t heed that advice and bought into this; some Rwandans have a “get rich quick” mentality that is too easy to exploit.
We are a booming nation where some are getting rich off hard work but others want a short cut; and the pyramid scheme is geared to that. The pyramid scheme has existed in various guises and is always being perfected to appeal to new customers.
Pyramid schemes take the form of various scams; such as “gifting circles” a hybrid of the scheme aimed at women – they can have good causes such as “helping women” with a portion of the scam money supposedly going to charity.
These gifting circles are nothing more than the classic pyramid where more people are brought in to pay the dividends for older clients. Sometimes cheap products like Aloe Vera are sold at extortionate prices with an elaborate sales pitch and marketing; so products worth $10 can be sold for $100 and customers are encouraged to sell on the products to other customers and the pyramid continues.
We have a number of legal measures to block such schemes but nothing can replace pure common sense; there is no such thing as something for nothing.
Even in America the disgraced Bernie Maddof redefined the Ponzi scheme for the 21st century with an elaborate pyramid that tricked even educated people.
Among his numerous victims was a professor of economics who should have known better; but even he was blinded by the lights and forgot his senses.
We have all received that email from the Nigerian Prince, whose father was a chief but recently died and left him $5,000,000 but due to a technicality the money is held up and all they need is the inheritance tax of 1% or $5,000 and you’ll get $20,000 as a personal thank you.
This sounds ridiculous but millions fall for this trick every year and the 401 is supposedly Nigeria’s second forex earner after oil, grossing over $1 billion.
It all comes down to common sense, patience, hard work – that is how you succeed because easy money goes as quickly as you earned it. The misery that pyramid schemes cause is terrible, they destroy families – Nairobi and Kampala in the early 90’s saw a rash of pyramid schemes that bankrupted a section of the middle-class.
Even after people had supposedly learned their lesson, the pyramid scheme evolved into something new and scammed again.
The pyramid scheme is successful because it mixes the two things that people crave; power and money. The man at the top of the pyramid has tremendous power and will benefit the most while lower minions will pay the price; it feeds on a need to suddenly change ones circumstances by getting rich all the time.
We have to understand that money is not the solution to our problems; our problems go deeper than that, they are in our character and habits we keep and not the money we have.
You would be better off to invest in a cooperative; bank or generally something producing tangible profits and not unsustainable pyramids.
The police and government will do their best but it falls on our shoulders to be alert; just remember what your mother said “if it looks too good to be true…