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The Globe and Mail

Disillusioned Russians flock to unrepentent fraudster

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An undated still image shows Sergei Mavrodi in video footage responding to media questions. Mr. Mavrodi’s “mutual aid fund” MMM-2012 is luring hordes of Russian investors by touting returns of up to 75 per cent a month. His previous scheme, MM-2011, is now closed and under investigation.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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Andrei Emilianov, a promoter of MMM-2012, poses with advertising materials in his car in Moscow, Sept. 5, 2012. “If you don’t want to participate you don’t have to,” he said.

MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

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MMM equities, or the so-called Mavrodi banknotes produced by the company in the mid-1990s, are seen in Mr. Emilianov’s car. Mr. Mavrodi became famous as the mastermind of an even bigger pyramid scheme in the 1990s.

MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

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MMM investor Anton Ryzhikov sits in a cafe in Kharkiv Aug. 30, 2012. He lost $12,500 (U.S.) in MMM-2011. “I definitely believed that everything was possible,” he said.

STRINGER/REUTERS

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The websites of Sergei Mavrodi and the MMM pyramid scheme, as seen in Moscow Sept. 13, 2012. Mr. Mavrodi claimed that MMM2011 had had more than 35 million participants, in Russia and beyond.

SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

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In this July 27, 1994 file photo, thousands of worried investors are kept back by police barricades in front of the MMM investment company in Moscow after shares of Russia’s largest investment company plunged amid panic selling.

Misha Japaridze/AP

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A Russian militia colonel argues with angry demonstrators as he tries to disperse them in central Moscow Oct. 11, 1995. The protest was organized by investors in a pyramid scheme called “Tibet” that went bankrupt after collecting billions of rubles.

Alexander Natruskin/REUTERS

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An employee of the Russian MMM investment fund, right, speaks to exhausted investors outside the fund's headquarters in Moscow Aug. 1, 1994.

Alexander Natruskin/REUTER

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Pyramid, or Ponzi, schemes operate largely unhindered in Russia and other former Soviet countries. In this Aug. 22, 1994 file photo, a Russian man jumps the line for a chance to buy MMM shares as the investment fund reopened to sell shares at 1/100th of their previous value.

Alexander Natruskin/REUTER

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