I take it that every body of the 125 billion people of India wants to be a billionaire in quick time or else time and again why would people, especially the lower middle class fall prey to the various schemes offering to double or sometimes triple your money in six months or a year. How can Indians believe that a person or an entity can pay them double or triple times the money they have invested when the banks and Government securities do not pay that much.
Over the years I have watched my friends, relatives and neighbours fall prey to various schemes where they had invested their life's hard earned money in foolish schemes, with a hope of doubling their investment in the shortest period possible. And 99 people out of 100 have lost money. The 100th man is lucky because the schemers often pay one in 100 to prove that their scheme is worth investing and to garner faith among the thousands of idiots who will put their hard earned money in these schemers hands.
My heart goes out to the millions of investors of Saradha, who may have lost their life long earning in the schemes floated by Saradha only to realise that there is no gold at the end of the rainbow. Time and again we here that somebody has lost his or her lifetime earnings in such schemes and yet none of us learn anything from it. This really saddens me.
In Mumbai in the 1990s, Mr.Sherekar wreaked havoc with the money of simple BEST drivers and conductors. Sherekar promised to give double the investment in 6 months and in no time he had all the employees of BEST, their relatives and persons known to them, flocking his doors to invest their money. As the beginning, as it happens with all ponzi schemes, Mr.Sherekar started paying double in six months. A select few took the doubled amount and were lucky but most of them, then reinvested the doubled amount with Sherekar only to lose all their earnings. This happened in front of my eyes and when I warned my friends, they took me to be a idiot for not investing money with Mr.Sherekar. Alas! time proved I was right and they lost their money.
The story keeps repeating, every now and then we here somebody losing money to some scam. As it is we have more then enough scams and then to lose money in one of these is really heart wrenching. As per Government figures, 87 companies have vanished after raising Rs.342.00 crores from ordinary people like you and me. Rs.342.00 crores is hellua lot of money. People may say that Government is not doing enough to catch these schemers, but what can the Government do if we Indians believe in chasing impossible dream of minting millions without any work. Mind you these is the number of the crimes reported. The number may be in at least 1000 crores if you add the unreported, next door schemes that are taking place even right now.
The most common system of Ponzi is multi-level Marketing. In this set up the Ponzi of the Chief Cheater sets up a marketing company and tells you to buy some literature or goods to be sold and promises you that every referral (more often your relatives and friends) will bring you certain returns. After that your referral will bring their referrals and ultimately you just have to sit at home and enjoy the earnings. You may invest up to lakhs of Rupees for the first time and over time the Ponzi promises you returns in crores(it is always in crores). You make a fool out yourself and invest in the scheme and then start searching for other fools, more often in your circle of friends or relatives. After collecting the amount the Chief Cheater just vanishes and you blame the gods, your destiny, write off the loss and go on with your life.
Most of the time these MLM guys are well versed with human psyche and will brainwash you with very good presentations and with meetings with people who have already earned crores(these people are a party to the scheme). They will tell you that ATTITUDE is 100 % (where a=1, b=2 etc. attitude comes to 100) and other extremely good stuff, show you dreams about the crores and within no time you are sold to the idea. So sold that you are willing to cheat your friends and relatives and sell them the scheme.
Not so long ago, many lost their money in the SpeakAsia scandal, Sanjeevani scandal and remember the host of the tree plantation companies which sprung up overnite to loot you with a dream of owning a tree and making you millionaire.
A new type of scheme which caught my eye is that you invest a certain amount monthly with a jeweller for 11 months and they will give you 12 instalment from their pocket. Sounds great but wait a minute there is a catch. After completion of 12 months you get to purchase the jewellery in their shop (this lot is kept separate and you have to buy from it), it is more costly and it will have a diamond you don't need, and always be at least three times the amount you have saved. So ultimately you are fooled by the ingenuity of the schemers and end up buying jewellery you don't need.
My only request to my fellow Indians is to be aware of one thing in life, there is no shortcut to success or life, the only ways to make obscene kind of money are to join bollywood or to make money in the Share market, currency or the commodities trade and here too only 1 in a million survive. So why not live your own live as God willed it instead of chasing the unnecessary millions which will never be yours.
Remember you are as guilty as the ponzi, cheaters, scammers or what ever you call it if you are part of it. Your guilt is your dream which makes you think you will mint millions without any sweat.
Please write in your experiences with the swindlers so that you can protect others from falling prey to this menace! If you liked this article and want to check out my other Op Ed articles click here.