Creator of Russia's biggest financial pyramid linked to 50 suicides joins the crypto-craze

Creator of Russia's biggest financial pyramid linked to 50 suicides joins the crypto-craze
A convicted Russian fraudster, who once ran the country's biggest Ponzi scheme, Sergei Mavrodi, has announced plans to relaunch his digital currency 'mavro' on the Ethereum platform.

“The time for change is now! We can do a lot!! Financial apocalypse is inevitable,” Mavrodi posted on his website, with a countdown before the launch of the new digital token, scheduled for December 29.

The decision to relaunch the virtual currency, which first saw the light at the end of 2016 with nearly 33,000 followers, was reportedly fueled by the unprecedented surge of cryptocurrencies this year. The new mavro was trading at 14 cents per token at 9:00 GMT on Friday, marking nearly a 75 percent decline since March 2017, when CoinMarketCap started tracking it.

Mavrodi is offering to replace “outdated” cryptocurrency with the “new mavro,” based on blockchain Ethereum, “which is almost impossible to destroy,” Russian media quote Mavrodi as saying. The founder is reportedly urging investors to get rid of old tokens by selling them at $0.50 per coin.

Sergei Mavrodi achieved notoriety after founding MMM (Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox), a financial pyramid in post-Soviet Russia in the early 1990s. Up to 15 million people thirsting for easy cash reportedly fell victim to the scheme losing all their savings. Investing in MMM shares promised returns of up to 300 percent per month. At least 50 investors in the scheme reportedly committed suicide after the pyramid collapsed.

Mavrodi was arrested in 1994 after a lengthy police investigation was eventually sentenced to four-and-a-half-years in jail. He was released from prison in May 2007.

In January 2011, the fraudster tried to relaunch the pyramid but failed. After Mavrodi’s second attempt to set the scheme in 2012, Russian authorities opened another criminal case. He is currently on the law enforcement wanted list.

In 2014, Mavrodi launched the MMM Global Republic of Bitcoin, the so-called social-financial network. The scheme promised monthly returns of 100 percent. Mavrodi suspended the project in 2016, but his other projects like MMM South Africa, MMM China, MMM JAPAN and MMM Global USA are reportedly still functioning. They promise investors a return of 30 percent per month.

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