OVERCOMING HARDSHIP #2: CHRISTIAN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON A PONZI SCHEME?
This is the second topic in our current series, “Overcoming Hardship.” The first discouraged believers from doing just about anything, including illegal and wicked stuff, to get by and get rich because things are hard. You can click on the title below to read that post if you missed it to set the stage for this one.
Now to today’s post:
In the fourth quarter of last year, I noticed a new trend on campus. Young people were often huddled around computers for hours. They weren’t doing assignments, they were involved in what they called “network business.”
“Come and register under me,” became a chant.
When I learnt what was taking my students’ time and money, I quickly began to dissuade them from participating. I devoted lecture hours to preach against these schemes. I was amazed that many thought the schemes were new results of the inventiveness of bright minds to help people cope with the ailing economy. They shuddered when I told them they were scams and have been around for long; that newer ones just announce juicier terms to undercut their competitors.
Thankfully, many refrained from “investing” their school fees and allowances in the schemes, but others ignored my counsel. Shortly after, the unsustainable returns promised could not be paid and some of the schemes crashed. Some students whose money was trapped had to sell their laptops and other valuables to pay their fees.
But these schemes are proliferating and they are being patronised by believers and churches, hence this post.
CHRISTIAN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON A PONZI SCHEME?
A few weeks ago, a young man who is an evangelist was overheard having a one-sided vitriolic conversation with someone on the phone. The location was a cyber café and the evangelist was heaping curses on the guy on the other end. He declared that the fellow would lose everything and suffer all manner of afflictions for duping him.
What gave rise to this rain of curses? The evangelist had got involved in a Ponzi scheme and was matched to be paid by the fellow he was cursing. On the said day, the guy assured him he had paid but network issues at the bank were hindering the deposit from reflecting in the evangelist’s account. He sounded like a responsible person and the evangelist confirmed on the platform that he had been paid, only to find out later that no deposit had been made. I wonder what he hoped to accomplish with the curses, perhaps to scare the guy into paying up.
But that wasn’t going to happen ’cause the only thing the young man replied was, “If actually you’re a man of God, what are you doing on this type of platform?” Personally, I find that a most pertinent question and hereby rephrase it: Child of God, what are you doing on a Ponzi scheme?Child of God, what are you doing on a Ponzi scheme? Click To Tweet
What is a Ponzi scheme? This explanation is necessary because some may really not know the true nature of some of this stuff that they have dabbled into and erroneously believe they are “manna from heaven.” Before we see a couple of definitions, I want to point out that network marketing, which adopts a pyramid scheme as Ponzi schemes do, is quite different and legitimate. In that case, there are tangible products sold from which the marketers get their commissions and promotion on the pyramid is based on the extent of sales and recruitment of new marketers.
Here’s a quotation from the Wex Legal Dictionary/Encyclopedia of the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. It gives both the meaning and mode of operation of Ponzi schemes.
“A type of investment fraud in which investors are promised artificially high rates of return with little or no risk; original investors and the perpetrators of the fraud are paid off by funds from later investors, but there is little or no actual business activity that produces revenue. The scheme generates funds for previous investors so long as there is a consistent flow of funds from new investors. This gives the impression that the earlier investments drastically increased in value in a short period of time. The scheme inevitably collapses when too many investors demand redemption or the scheme fails to attract a sufficient number of new investments.”A Ponzi scheme is a scam no matter who is involved or the gains promised. Click To Tweet
This second definition from businessdictionary.com is even more revealing:
“Scam in which a gullible group is enticed with the promise of very high returns in a very short time, but is based on paying off the early ‘investors’ from the cash from (hopefully ever increasing number of) new ‘investors.’ The whole structure collapses when the cash outflow exceeds the cash inflow. The originators of the scheme, however, usually disappear with large sums a few days before the crash. Named after Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), an Italian immigrant to the US who, during 1919-1920 collected more than fifteen million dollars from some 40,000 eager people by promising to double their investment in 90 days.”
So my question once again is: Christian, what are you doing on a Ponzi scheme? Does any of the foregoing sound like God’s way of providing for or prospering His own? Are you sure you are unaware that these schemes are swindles? Or have you chosen to persist in them regardless?
The Bible has some words for those with a get-rich-quick mindset and you can be sure they are not words of commendation.
“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” – Proverbs 13:11 (NLT)
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” – Proverbs 28:20 (NKJV)
“A greedy person tries to get rich quick, but it only leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 28:22 (NLT)The bible condemns greed and get-rich-quick mentality. Click To Tweet
In an article posted on Dec. 16, 2016, Premium Times listed the 7 trending Ponzi schemes in Nigeria then as MMM Nigeria, Ultimate Cycler, Zar fund, Givers Forum, Icharity, Crowd Rising and Get Help Worldwide.
There are many more of such schemes both here and in other countries of the world with new ones springing up everyday as those who were “burned” in other schemes or just plain greedy folks set up shop to defraud unsuspecting members of the public. There’s even one called NNN Nigeria that has started growing with the tanking of MMM Nigeria. Their names alone should tell you these are copycat schemes but essentially running a pyramid swindle. Mutual aid, my foot!
If you feel I’m being a fusspot, take a few minutes to research these schemes. You will find out that they should not be the gospel of the hour as unfortunately they have become for some. It is scandalous to hear of engagement in Ponzi schemes being taught in churches. It is a sign of gross ignorance of both financial management and the word of God.
As we pointed out in the first teaching in this series, “Christian, Flee ‘Whatever It Takes To Survive’!“, the Bible does not say we should obey God when things are rosy but follow the world in its ways when things are tough. Our God is able to sustain and even prosper us in the hard times, in His own way.
Don’t be taken in by the classy-looking web sites and beautiful models used. It doesn’t matter the “testimony” of returns anyone gives you. It does not make this wrong thing right. Get out immediately if you’re on one and seek ways to make restitution for your involvement. Trust in God and get involved in legitimate businesses. The dividends may not be fabulous at first but as you faithfully build, God will reward your efforts by His mighty power. Remember, if anything, including a business opportunity, seems too good to be true, it probably is!Remember, if anything seems too good to be true, it probably is! Click To Tweet
This series continues soon with a teaching on specific dangers Ponzi schemes pose to believers.
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