Probably, many of our compatriots remember the financial pyramid of JSC "MMM". Her dazzling rise and crushing fall did not leave anyone indifferent. Some people went crazy and laid hands on themselves, while others, rejoicing in their foresight, only laughed at those who wanted to get rich without putting the slightest effort into it. But the modern generation has already begun to forget about the most grandiose scam in Russia. Therefore, to recall the history of "MMM" will not be superfluous.
Founding a company
Few people know that the company was originally registered as a trading cooperative. Yes, yes, in 1989, when the USSR still existed, the MMM joint-stock company specialized specifically in trade. First of all, it was such a scarce commodity as computers and accessories.
However, the direction changed quite quickly. The company traded in everything that promised a quick profit: office equipment, advertising, equipment, stock exchange activities, even beauty contests. Also, the legal address of "MMM" often changed. At first the office was located on Gazgoldernayastreet, then on Warsaw highway, then on Bolshaya Pirogovaya.
However, there were many such companies in a very difficult time for the country and the people. Most of them, after working for several months, simply disintegrated. And today, few can remember their existence. However, "MMM" took a very different path.
Origin of the name
Few people know that the name was formed from the first letters of the names of the creators of the pyramid "MMM". Among them were Sergey Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Olga Melnikova. However, as Sergei Mavrodi later asserted, the latter participated in the process only nominally. It was just that several founders were required to register a company, which is why they were invited to sign and officially become co-founders. They did not participate in the further activities of the company.
Creating a pyramid
But rather quickly the main founder of the company realized that it would not be possible to get rich quickly and fabulously on ordinary trading. Then it occurred to him to create something new, which did not yet exist in the post-Soviet space. And so begins the story of the first pyramid - "MMM".
The transformation from a trading company to an investment company took place on October 20, 1992.
In early 1993, the first issue prospectus was registered. As a result, the company received the right to issue 991,000 shares. In fact, this is where the story of "MMM" Mavrodi begins. Good ad and well thought outmarketing support did their job - the shares began to be bought up very quickly. Moreover, their value grew every day.
As a result, just a few months later, Mavrodi applied for the issue of a new batch of shares - now for a billion copies. He was not given such permission, so he limited himself to another 991,000 shares. They also left like hot cakes. There was incredible pandemonium at the points of sale. People borrowed money from friends and family, sold property to buy shares that promised fabulous money. Well, like any pyramid scheme in history, "MMM" had its best days. But such a heyday simply could not be long.
The principle of the pyramid
Many people bought stocks hoping to make huge profits soon, with no thought at all about how the "MMM" pyramid worked.
In fact, the principle of operation is as simple as possible. The holder of a stock has always been able to profitably sell it only because they have maintained a steadily increasing growth (remember the "tulip fever" in the seventeenth century in Holland). Within a month, the share price approximately doubled.
In other words, during this time the number of depositors (or at least sold shares) quadrupled. Thus, the new generation of holders of securities significantly outnumbered the previous one. This made it possible to maintain the prestige of the company and even buy shares from holders at a significantly increased price. But who would have thought to sellstocks that increase in price by 200 percent in one month? Of course, most people preferred to hold securities on hand, waiting for them to simply rise to fabulous heights.
However, even under ideal conditions, the existence of a pyramid is possible only as long as each subsequent generation of depositors is several times greater than the previous one. Everything here is like with an ordinary pyramid. But what will happen if, at least for several generations, the number of depositors remains the same or, moreover, begins to decrease? The answer is simple. The pyramid will collapse. This is very well shown in the documentary "MMM - the story of a brilliant deception", which was released in September 2012.
The profit of the founders and the investors themselves grew rapidly. As mentioned above, the stock has doubled in price over the month. Well, in total, during the existence of the company (from January 1993 to August 1994, that is, a year and a half), the cost has increased 127 times. The number of contributors was measured in millions.
Mavrodi himself also did not stay away from the profits. According to some reports, his daily income was about $50 million.
Things went relatively smoothly until July 27, 1994. It was then that the creator of the MMM pyramid, Sergei Mavrodi, announced a reduction in the value of shares to their original face value, that is, 127 times, to one thousand rubles. At the same time, he promised that now the growth rate will increase significantly and amount to about 400percent per month.
Don't think that "MMM" worked only in one direction. A huge amount of money, which even had nowhere to invest, required investing them at least in something.
Thus, the company invested in various programs on television: "Under the Sign of the Zodiac", "Contacts, Contacts", "Last Squeak". With the money of depositors, a video was shot for the song of the group "Zero" called "I'm going, I smoke." The company also released the film "Gongofer".
May 17, 1994 "MMM" became the general sponsor of the match between "Spartak" and "Parma". Football player Fyodor Cherenkov, for whom this match was a farewell, received a chic Mitsubishi Pajero car as a gift. The company also acted as a sponsor at the City Day in the capital of Russia.
Many Muscovites remember charity events when a rich company signed a contract with the management of the Moscow Metro, thanks to which city residents could ride it for free.
Of course, while briefly telling the story of "MMM", one cannot but mention the chic marketing campaign, which in many ways ensured high popularity.
Certainly, the most recognizable character from the advertisement was Lenya Golubkov - an ordinary Russian who is always short of money, devoured by wild inflation. By investing the last 50 thousand in MMM shares, in a month he receives enough profit tobuy boots for my wife. A month later, there is enough money for a fur coat. Furniture, a car and even a house in Paris follow.
The commercials were, on the one hand, very short (15-30 seconds), but at the same time they were released in successive series, creating something like a mini-series consisting of 43 commercials. Of course, Leni's experiences were close to many potential investors. This hooked them, forcing them to carry their last savings to the cash desk of JSC "MMM", hoping to multiply this money. Over time, in addition to Leni Golubkov, his wife, brother, acquaintances of different ages began to appear in the commercials - from newlyweds to pensioners.
Well, the video, which simply shocked the minds of depositors, was filmed with the involvement of the famous Mexican actress Victoria Ruffo. Yes, yes, the one who played the main role in the super popular TV series Just Maria in the 1990s. Of course, the participation of a well-known actress in advertising was the reason why many people, already prepared by previous commercials and public opinion, could not stand it and invested in a pyramid scheme.
Collapse of the pyramid
The history of MMM ended in 1994. Specifically, August 4th. It was then that Sergei Mavrodi was arrested for tax evasion. According to experts, over the years of the company's existence, he underpaid about 50 billion rubles to the budget.
The storming of his apartment was shown live on television. Of course, immediately after that, the share price collapsed to zero.
The pyramid, as expected, collapsed. Well, the arrest of its founder only served as a catalyst. Perhaps, if this had not happened, the number of shareholders would have increased further, and the “bubble explosion” would have been even louder.
Number of casu alties
Today it is difficult to say exactly how many people were the holders of the shares of JSC "MMM". Securities, not to mention tickets (a cheaper analogue) were bought without registration, their owners were not registered, and they were freely transferred from person to person. Therefore, the investigation officially stated that the number of those deceived exceeded 10 thousand people. According to other sources, this number exceeded 10 million people.
Moreover, when the bubble under the loud name "MMM" burst, many people lost everything. Indeed, in pursuit of easy money, they invested not only personal savings, but also borrowed from relatives (or persuaded them to also join a profitable business), sold apartments, cars and everything that had at least some value. As a result, about fifty people committed suicide in various ways, unable to bear the loss of everything - from savings to the trust of loved ones.
The fate of Sergei Mavrodi
Of course, the fate of Sergei Mavrodi, the main founder of the pyramid, is of the greatest interest.
After the MMM crash, he hid from law enforcement officers for five years, without even leaving Moscow. In 2003, he appeared before the court. The process lasted more than four years - all this time Mavrodi was in the "Matrosskayasilence". The case has accumulated 610 volumes.
But the founder received a very modest term - 4.5 years. Since he spent four years in prison, he was released a month later.
Followers of "MMM"
Of course, the success of the pyramid, which enriched the owner, making him one of the richest people in Russia in a matter of months, could not leave indifferent other fans to cash in at someone else's expense.
Quite quickly, a huge number of other pyramids were registered in the country. According to experts, their number is close to two thousand. The most famous are "Tibet", "Russian House Selenga", "Khoper-Invest", "Telemarket", "Rosich" and many others.
They couldn't match "MMM" in popularity. However, people have suffered from their activities - from hundreds of thousands to millions. The amount of stolen money was measured from billions to trillions of rubles.
"MMM" in the 21st century
When released, Sergei Mavrodi did not remain in the shadows for long. Already in 2011, he launched a new pyramid - "MMM-2011". Now he deciphered the name as "We can do a lot." A year later, the company was reorganized into MMM-2012. And in 2014, it turned into "MMM-Global". The scheme of work remained the same - previously arrived investors received profit from proceeds from new shareholders. At the same time, Mavrodi openly stated in his own blog that the companies arepyramids can collapse at any time without a refund. However, people still took out savings and bought shares, hoping to make a serious profit.
In 2015, Mavrodi announced the closure of the company, stating that any branches and centers that continue to operate are fraudulent.
Today, branches exist in different countries of the world - not only in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, but also in China, Japan, the USA, Peru, Ghana, South Africa and others. Now the remuneration was promised already more modest - from 10 to 40 percent per month. The founders were betting on the rapidly growing Bitcoin.
In 2017, many branches were closed. Investors were promised to return the money along with the accumulated remuneration. However, the final payment date remains open and constantly pushed back. It is not difficult to assume that these depositors also fell victim to cunning manipulators who rely on human greed and stupidity.
This concludes our article. Now you know what the essence of the MMM pyramid is. And at the same time learned about the history of its creation, development and decline. Let's hope that readers have become aware of the essence of the financial pyramid that has ruined millions of people in our country alone, and they will try to stay away from extremely profitable and tempting offers.