The Bank of Namibia (BoN) has come to the rescue. They have classified the activities of Mufhiwa Building Projects as a pyramid scheme. Those involved are conning people out of their hard-earned money and pocketing the proceeds. BoN has cautioned the public to beware and avoid any transactions with Mufhiwa Building Projects or similar entities that may be doing the exact same thing. BoN has ordered promoters of Mufhiwa Building Projects and those who are already caught in its web as ‘members’ to stop doing any kind of business. A nod must be given to BoN for watching our wallets.

In these tough times as people lose their jobs, manage lower household income and generally face uncertain financial times, the crooks and thieves ooze out of the gutter. They dress in fine suits and talk a good game, but they only want your money. Poverty and jobless is no excuse for criminality. But, it is a warning sign. Those with shrinking household income need to protect the little that they have by being prudent about what they buy, where they invest, and to whom they give money for any reason.

Lockdown backlash hurt the formal economy, but also the underground markets. The bad guys have less in their wallets as well and they are looking for ways to get their fill once again.

Conmen succeed not by looking like a Tsotsi from the dark alleys of Eveline Street. They succeed because they purposefully make themselves look exactly the opposite of what they are. Some of these charlatans speak from a pulpit and call themselves apostle, prophet, reverend, and pastor. Their message isn’t to love God but rather, it is aimed at your wallet and bank balance. Beware.

Pyramid schemes are criminal endeavours. They pop up everywhere and take on different names, but essentially are the same thing. The bottom line is that anything that sounds too good to be true – IS. If money were so easily made, everyone would be doing it. There is no ‘secret’ for earning money. We all know we must work for it.

They usually work something like this: Give your N$1000 to the flashy conman and he promises with a big smile to give you N$1500 back in one month. But, you cannot get your money back until you bring in five people who also give N$1000. He will spin a tale about needing more people to make the investment profitable.

When the scheme is new, he does indeed give back N$1500 as promised to those first level of sheep. But, in fact the N$1500 paid ‘back’ was part of the money from other gullible people ‘invested’ with him. And so, it goes, until the money runs out and those last into the scheme lose it all.

Those who put their money in first have little concern about the losses of those who came in after them. As long as they get their money, they sing the praises of such schemes.

The best way to smell out a scheme is to demand evidence of the product, records of all banking exchanges and their registration forms with the government regulatory agencies that watch those industries. When the excuses fly, hold your handbag close to your chest and walk away.

In this recent case, the Bank of Namibia was on top of the situation. Credit must be given where it is earned.

Remember that the BoN sounded the alarm about Metbank owner, and SME Bank bandit Enoch Kamushinda before they granted a license to that banking entity. They wanted him out of the entire SME Bank deal. But it was alleged that political pressure was brought to bear to force the granting of a license. The BoN had to settle with having his share reduced from 30 percent to 5 percent. And still, Kamushinda and his band of merry thieves found local co-conspirators and apologists and ripped this nation off for hundreds of millions. We did not listen well enough to the Bank back in 2009. The nation paid the price.

Watch your money in these tough times. If the BoN warns about a money scheme, listen to them.