If you had no idea who he was when his insanely popular Ponzi scheme took the country by storm, then you definitely heard about him when news of his death spread and Nigerians fist pumped in unison and celebrated.

His name was Sergei Mavrodi, Russia’s Jeffrey Dahmer look-alike and founder of MMM, the Ponzi scheme that defrauded millions of people around the world.

Now, this isn’t me making him out to be some kind of legend or anything, but I recently found out some details about his life that legit made me scream. (My curiosity not only killed the cat, but it also buried it too.)

Details like:

1. You see this MMM thing? No be when e come Nigeria e start.

This nigga actually started this thing in 1989 with his brother, Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and some woman named Olga Melnikova. It initially started as a network of computer-importing cooperatives but underwent several transformations (after tax police accused the business of tax evasion in 1992) to become a Ponzi scheme in 1994.

2. He was arrested for tax evasion in 1994 and, while still being investigated, ran for office in his country (Russia) AND WON.

3 weeks after being released from police custody, this guy saw an opportunity and went for it. You see, a politician in the Federal Assembly of Russia had just been killed and an election was scheduled to replace him. Mavrodi somehow ran in this election and won, automatically gaining immunity from the crime he was was being investigated for at the time.

That wasn’t the end of his problems though. During his tenure, Mavrodi showed up in the Federal Assembly just once, to vote against an attempt to strip him of immunity. He was eventually stripped of his immunity in 1995, which led to him trying to run for PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA in 1996. However, his bid was denied after officials discovered that most of the signatures he submitted were forged.

This guy!

3. After his plot to run for the presidency was foiled, he declared MMM bankrupt and vanished in 1997.

With a shit ton of people’s money. He wouldn’t be found for another six years.

4. He was found and arrested in Moscow in 2003 (which was weird because authorities believed he fled to Greece years prior) and was given until February 2006 to read the documents in the fraud case against him.

If you’re wondering why he was given three years to read a bunch of documents, it’s because these documents had 650 volumes, and each volume was 270 pages long. He got lucky though because, by April 2007, he was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. And since he had already been in police custody for 4 years, he only spent less than a month in prison before he was released.

This guy!

5. A book he wrote about MMM and how the Russian government shut it down was eventually turned into a movie named The PyraMMMid. It was released in 2011.

Eldar Salavatov, the filmmaker who took on the project, made the story into a Robin Hood-style narrative about a con man who turns a new leaf by deciding to fight a corrupt financial system. Frankly, I think it sounds insane which is why I absolutely have to watch it.

6. In 2011, he launched the version of MMM we encountered lazily named MMM-2011.

He launched it first in Russia and boldly stated that it was, in fact, a Ponzi scheme (there’s no law against them in Russia) he hoped would destroy the financial system, which he considered unfair. He then proceeded to launch it in India, China, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Nigeria, all of which ended the same way.

Alexa, play Madonna’s “Frozen.”

7. After dying of heart problems in March 2018, MMM 2011 investors funded his funeral.

We’re also going to assume that these heart problems were caused by millions of curses from the victims of his Ponzi schemes. God knows he deserved it.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.