Sergei Mavrodi

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Sergei Mavrodi in 2012

Sergei Panteleevich Mavrodi (Russian: Серге́й Пантеле́евич Мавро́ди; born August 11, 1955) is a Russian criminal and a former deputy of the State Duma. He is the founder of the МММ series of pyramid schemes. In 2007 Sergei Mavrodi was convicted in a Russian court of defrauding 10,000 investors out of 110 million rubles ($4.3 million).[1][2][3] Mavrodi claims he is not the beneficiary of the donations and he is not used to flamboyant lifestyle. His true charges of which he was later convicted of is tax fraud[4] though he claimed that MMM scheme is not a business, but a mutual donation program of which there is no law against such.[5] There were interviews after his release where he claimed MMM Global is behind the bitcoin price rally.[6]

MMM activities[edit]

In 1989 he founded MMM.[7][8][9]

He was then elected as deputy of State Duma obtaining parliamentary immunity. Mavrodi declared MMM bankrupt on December 22, 1997, then disappeared, and was on the run until his arrest in 2003.[10]

In 1998 Mavrodi created Stock Generation,[11][12] allegedly a classic pyramid scheme presented as a "virtual stock market game".[1] The website ran from 1998 to early 2000. The Massachusetts district court initially found that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was unable to cite Stock Generation's founders and owners for securities violations. However, the United States Court of Appeals reversed this decision in 2001, concluding that the SEC alleged sufficient facts to state a triable claim.[13] In 2003 the SEC obtained permanent injunctions against SG Ltd. and relief defendants SG Perfect and SG Trading, which profited from the disbursement of funds fraudulently gained by SG Ltd.[14][15]

On April 28, 2007, a Moscow court sentenced him to four and a half years in a penal colony. The court also fined him 10,000 rubles ($390).[10]

In January 2011, Mavrodi launched another pyramid scheme called MMM-2011, asking investors to buy so-called Mavro currency units. He frankly described it as a pyramid, adding "It is a naked scheme, nothing more ... People interact with each other and give each other money. For no reason!"[16] Mavrodi said that his goal with MMM-2011 is to destroy the current financial system, which he considers unfair, which would allow something new to take its place. MMM-2011 was able to function openly as Ponzi schemes and financial pyramids are not illegal under Russian law.[17] In May 2012 he froze the operation and announced that there would be no more payouts.[18]

In 2011 he launched a similar scheme in India, called MMM India, again stating clearly that the vehicle is a pyramid.[19] He has also launched MMM in China.[20] He was reported to be trying to expand his operations into Western Europe, Canada, and Latin America.[17] As of September 2015 it had spread rapidly in South Africa with a claimed 1% per day or 30% per month interest rate scheme[21] and warnings from both the South African and Russian Communist Parties for people not to participate in it.[22] In early 2016, he continued the same model in Zimbabwe (the accounts were frozen in September 2016), and later, in Nigeria (accounts frozen in December, 2016).[23][24] MMM Nigeria reopened activities on the 13th January, 2017.[25]

Stock Generation (US)[edit]

With the help of a distant relative he started, Stock Generation Ltd., another pyramid scheme based around trading non-existent companies' stocks in a form of the "stock exchange game" on the company's site, Despite a bold-letter warning on the main page that the site was not a real stock exchange, between 20,000 and 275,000 people, according to various estimates, fell for the promised 200% returns and lost their money. According to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, losses of victims were at least USD 5.5 million.[26]


In 2008 Mavrodi published the book "Temptation". In May 2008, bailiffs arrested Mavrodi's rights to this book. Seven thousand copies of the book were published.[3][27]


A feature film The PyraMMMid, based on the story of the same name by Mavrodi was released in Russia on April 7, 2011. The role of Sergei Mavrodi (in the film he is called Sergei Mamontov) is played Aleksei Serebryakov.


  1. ^ a b "Sergei Mavrodi Convicted of Fraud in MMM Trial", by Kevin O’Flynn, The St. Petersburg Times.
  2. ^ "Mavrodi's Internet-Pyramide Commapsed" Archived January 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (in Russian)
  3. ^ a b ITAR-TASS[dead link]
  4. ^ of Russia:Mythical money helps to buy voters, by ANDREW HIGGINS Friday 28 October 1994.
  5. ^ is a Revolution For Each And Everyone Of You.To Fight Against Financial Slavery,
  6. ^ I’m no crook,’ declares MMM scamster, while claiming credit for the Bitcoin price spike, by Izabella Kaminska November 9, 2015.
  7. ^ "A Scheme With No Off Button" by Catherine Rampell, NY Times
  8. ^ "Sergey Mavrodi" (in Russian)
  9. ^ Bigg, Claire (March 15, 2012). "Jailed For Not Paying A Fine, Ponzi Scheme Founder Plots 'Financial Apocalypse'". RFE/RL. 
  10. ^ a b Moscow court sentences pyramid scheme head Mavrodi to 4.5 yrs
  11. ^ MMM Corporation Archived August 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. by Peter Symes
  12. ^ "Money For Nothing", by Dan Brekke,Wired Magazine, Issue 8.09, Sep 2000
  13. ^ Appeal of SEC vs. Stock Generation, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  14. ^ SG Ltd. (Stock Generation Ltd.) et al.
  15. ^ Securities and Exchange Commission v. SG Limited et al., (United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 00-11141-GAO), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Litigation Release No.. 18181 / June 9, 2003
  16. ^ Shuster, Simon (January 15, 2011). "Why is Russia's Bernie Madoff Back in Business?". Time Magazine. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Bigg, Claire (March 20, 2012). "Mavrodi's Ponzi comeback seeks financial apocalypse". Asia Times. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "Fool me twice, shame on me: Russians fall once again for notorious Ponzi scheme". RT. June 2, 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Lobazina, Alina (September 1, 2012). "MMM scheme heads to India". Russia & India Report. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "MMM South Africa Scheme"
  22. ^ de Wet, Phillip (11 September 2015). "Rich pickings for Russian con artist". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  23. ^ Khazov-Kassia, Sergey (October 22, 2016). "African pyramids of Mavrodi". RFE/RL Russian. Retrieved 22 October 2016.  (in Russian)
  24. ^
  25. ^ "mmmnigeria reopens"
  26. ^ "SG Limited: Lit. Rel. No. 17129 / September 14, 2001". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  27. ^ Сергей Мавроди. Искушение. Москва, Р7осмэн, 2008.