Russian businessman Sergei Mavrodi, whose MMM pyramid scheme deprived millions of Russians of their savings in the 1990s, has died of a heart attack, according to Russia media.
Mavrodi’s MMM financial pyramid was a typical Ponzi scheme in which earlier investors receive their profits from subsequent investors. Mavrodi promised returns of 20 percent to 75 percent a month, as well as lotteries and bonuses for investors.
As soon as the number of new clients stopped growing, the pyramid collapsed, causing huge financial losses for at least 10 million people, in some cases leaving them destitute.
In 1994, Mavrodi was elected as a lawmaker, a decision he later said was to ensure he received immunity from prosecution. In 1996, he lost his parliamentary mandate.
In 2007, a Moscow court found him guilty of financial fraud and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in a penal colony.
From 2011-16, Mavrodi launched Ponzi schemes under the MMM brand in India, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.
In many of those countries, Mavrodi’s operations were subsequently shut down or suspended.