Residents Put On Alert About Latest Get Rich Quick Scheme

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By: Louisianne Josiah- Roberts, Financial Compliance Professional & Anti-Money Laundering and Counter the Financing of Terrorism Specialist

 

In an era when persons are faced with increased financial hardship and vague future economic prospects, there is an increased drive to explore avenues of bringing in “extra cash”. Some may explore new business ventures, seek second jobs, access credit facilities, and some will seek out get rich quick schemes.

 

In Antigua and Barbuda, the newest get rich quick scheme appears to be what is marketed as the “Modern Day Sou-Sou”. The Traditional Sou-Sou or what we have as “Box Money”, is an informal way of saving money. The model is based on a fixed number of persons forming a group where they contribute a specific sum of money for a period of time, e.g weekly or monthly. Each time the participants contribute a person receives their payout, and this continues until each person receives their funds. It must be noted that the Modern Day Sou-Sou does not follow the traditional model. The Modern Day Sou-Sou’s structure is more accurately depicted as a pyramid, despite it being marketed as a circular structure so that persons would believe it is not a pyramid. However, if you were to deconstruct the circle, it comes back to a pyramid.

 

There has been an emergence of persons proposing an opportunity for returns on investments (or some may use the term contribution) of up to 700% or even more in just 4 weeks. Sounds good right? As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Such a high percentage of returns do not just automatically appear, so you may wish to ask yourself at what expense are these gains realized?

 

Let’s explore this arrangement further. John starts a Modern Day Sou-Sou whereby he invites Peter and Mary to join with an initial investment of $500, based on the premise that they must also individually invite two other persons who will also invest $500. Those persons will also invite an additional two persons with the same investment amount and it continues. For John to realize an amount of $4000, 7 persons must participate in the Sou-Sou ($500 * 7, plus his $500 investment). However, if we are to strictly follow the circular structure, John would receive his funds when 15 persons join the sou-sou. Meaning that there would be an overage of $3500 which would go towards the next disbursement for Peter and Mary to receive their promised $4000 each. In order for Mary and Peter to receive their promised returns 31 persons must participate in the Sou-Sou, for thereafter the next set will receive their funds when 63 persons join, then 127 persons, 191 persons, 512 persons etc.

 

The fact of the matter is that this arrangement reflects a pyramid scheme. Persons are only guaranteed their returns plus gains based on their ability and the ability of others to get persons to participate. This is certainly not a new phenomenon, as it has existed in other parts of the world for years. It may also be termed as the “Blessing Loom’ and may be considered a Ponzi Scheme by some. Counties such as the UK, the US, Canada, and Jamaica we have seen persons both benefited and made losses as a result of their participation in such an arrangement. Case studies will show that the early participants or persons closest to the center of the circle will benefit, and this will entice others to participate in hopes of being as lucky as them. However, history has also taught us that there is always a slow in such an arrangement or complete crash at which point persons will lose their contributions and promised gains. 

 

The Modern Day Sou-Sou presents several concerns for our economy which we all must consider. It is an avenue for illegal funds to enter the system and be comingled with legitimate funds. The existence of simultaneous looms and persons’ participation in multiple looms presents the opportunity for complex structures and for persons to be deceived. As the Sou-Sou grows it may become difficult to manage and persons may have to wait longer than the promised timeframe to receive their funds. The administrator may or may not be a trustworthy person and one who can efficiently manage such an arrangement in a safe manner.

 

 

It is imperative that individuals and financial institutions adequately assess such an arrangement to ensure that it is one with which they wish to engage. For example, at some point, a customer of a financial institution may wish to deposit funds that they have realized through this arrangement, or persons may wish to remit funds overseas to participate in such an arrangement. Financial institutions may now be faced with difficulties in identifying the participants of the Sou-Sou and by extension the source of the funds of their customers. Financial institutions are reminded of their obligations to ensure that the mandated know your customer, transactional, and record-keeping policies and procedures are adhered to. They must consider whether or not the underlying activity is in keeping with their risk appetite. They are also advised to contact their local regulatory agencies for further assistance in handling and assessing the risk of such arrangements.

 

For the persons wishing to participate in such an arrangement, they are strongly advised to conduct adequate research on the Modern Day Sou-Sou; understand the structure and how it works. They must know how they fit into the structure and when and under what stipulations they will receive their initial contribution and promised returns. It must be understood that this is an informal arrangement at that the possibility exists that they may lose their contributions. Participants are urged to know who the administrator is and how the funds are safeguarded and look out for complex structures.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Very detailed and informative article. Any business opportunity with a complex structure and high fast payout (get rich quick idea) is not for me. It just does not feel right for me to collect for eg seven fold of what I would have invested without selling a product or providing a service. Some persons will receive a payout because the organizers must make the business opportunity seem legit but there’s a lot of persons that will lose their money and there’s no way to know who will be getting the burnt end of the stick.

  2. I love how this article was put together “enter at your own risk” some go to the casino, some do insurance and some play the lotto what’s the difference the government and others get a cut I do understand what this article is saying but just like those other things I mentioned it’s a chance. I tried it 3 times collected once and hey that’s fine because I know someone else benefited just like I did. So I know many of you have your own opinion and I have mines as he said before trying just do a little investigation

  3. I think most people don’t understand how the insurance work do you know the amount of pressure Sagicor put on its agent to recruit new customers so the business can flow smoothly do you know that it need atlease 7 working individuals for Social Security to pay 1 pensioner and by time these 7 retire they will need close to 20 to pay each pensioner they are all scams but hey it may last just not forever enjoy the ride while u can

    • But insurance monies are paid in case of an accident and other plans are paid incase of death. You don’t always expect to get something back with insurance but with this box or circle or pyramid whatever it is you expect to be paid back bases on what you were told or i should say fooled.

  4. If I see someone struggling, and I decided from my own judgment to assist this individual by gifting him or her. The individual will not tell me it’s a scam. This is how the modern day sou dou works. Your money is always sure, if you follow the rules. People do not follow rules, that’s why it not working at times. They want money and don’t want to take the time to make or thank the individual who gifts them. If you don’t have 2 friends or family members you trust, don’t get in it. It is for trustworthy, caring, and sharing individuals. Make sure when you gift the individual, you make it legal. Have a nitorized document to show that it’s a gift. It is legal, it’s a sou sou, just be committed and it will work for you. Help those who need help. Stop the financial gap that we are facing in our community. Gift someone you love. 🎁

    • So i am only gonna be thinking about myself, what about the two family members that I can trust and wanna bring into this thing, can they each find two persons that they can trust and can these persons also find two persons they can find to extend this thing. This thing only benefits the first set of people to join and some will never get any returns. Anyways I will throw a normal box with people that i trust but i won’t be joining this one cause i can’t find anyone to and they would have to trust me and i have no idea where the money coming from to pay them, don’t want to be looking over my shoulders, thanks

  5. First of all why does this bother you or concern you?

    Secondly we work for our own money and does it matter to y’all ungrateful ppl in Antigua that keep stealing poor ppl money

    Thirdly if we chose to risk it it’s our business not yours nuh anybody own so until the government start acting right we gotta do what we gotta do‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️

  6. Antigua tourism strive from funds that’s been in this system for years so, please come off you moral high ground. Can you remember who organise the last high profile super cricket league? Where was it played? Where is the dude that ran it? Thousands of poor and rich Antiguans benefitted. In life, sometimes you win sometimes you loose. But, to know if you win or loose you have to take chances. “You go to be in it to win it!” Where you are now, did you plan your path exactly as it turned out?

    The lottery change a lot of people’s life and so does all of these systems in place.

    “ ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE!”

  7. From the comments on this article where people are talking about they won’t feel right getting easy money and people equating this to insurance or saying that if it was taxable government would be okay with it shows Antiguans are generally dunce and gifted at missing the point. This is an unsustainable structure. Something like a ponzi scheme. Think Madoff, R. Allen Stanford. Where people can lose tonnes of money if left to fester. How come y’all so myopic not to see this? God! I’m appalled by the dunceness.

  8. Same method is working in the Jewish and Asian communities. How do you think they own so much more businesses than blacks in America? Do your research and write another article and why the get rich quick scheme cannot work for blacks

  9. I went into this same thing unknowing what exactly I was getting myself into. It was not explained that in order for me to get paid I would have to get 2 people then they would have to get 2 people so if they never get they 2 people I would never get paid

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