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Namibia Bans Pyramid Scheme Most Popular with South Africans

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Crowd1, the “get-rich-quick” business operation has just been banned in Namibia with the Bank of Namibia declaring the business’ operations to be an “undesirable practice” – meaning 10 years in prison or about a $66,000 fine for anyone caught promoting it, reports Business Insider.

“Crowd1 does not sell tangible products or render any service of essential value, but the primary source of income for Crowd1 is the sale of membership packages to new members,” says the BON, describing its classic pyramid scheme. The bank continues to say, that since the organisation’s model is not sustainable it will “result in members of the public, especially those at the bottom of the scheme, losing their money.”

Crowd1 Claims and Business

Crowd1’s business model operates via a mobile app platform available on the App Store or Google Play Store. The app solicits payments in Euro from about $100 in entry payments to nearly $3000 in top-of-the-range packages.

What these packages do exactly is still up for interpretation and debate – apparently, subscribers or members who purchase packages become eligible to receive a portion of the sign-up payments for new members, that they have to, in turn, recruit.

Crowd1’s offerings and actual objectives remain nebulous – they explain themselves using general statements and flagrant use of ‘business talk’-jargon. Claiming to supply members with crowdfunding opportunities and to teach members what crowdfunding is as if it was some sort of get-rich-instantly industry secret.

Actual crowdfunding is a lot more straightforward and is usually more of a “last chance” method of releasing products or services than a way to make millions of dollars quickly – see popular crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe for examples.

In South Africa, its highest market, representatives for Crowd1 have described that it offers “a business everyone will understand” and describes that as a business model tailored for “the network economy” and “crow thinking” – with no further explanation or details.

It is not yet clear how many South Africans use or are members of Crowd1 but, web traffic reports suggest a large amount, nearly 30% of its total traffic is from South Africa, the second-largest source is Russia at 8.5% of the total, its third is Venezuela. Interestingly, the audience overlap with is shared with a few cryptocurrency sites.

Shady Earning Practices

Crowd1’s promises of bonuses and payments are as shadowy as the company’s website. It claims to have sold software created by foreign developers, but there is no sign that it does this on any sort of significant scale. It has likewise claimed to be involved with sports betting in Kenya and South Africa insisted all-the-while that it isn’t a gambling company.

Where is Crowd1?

Although claiming to have a head office in Spain, and a registered presence in Cyprus, of all places, much of its publicity is produced in Russian first – a cursory read through its publicity does have certain markers for incorrectly translated English – “Crowd1 is a systematic approach towards a modern business where the number of people is equally valuable than the number of Euros.”

The company has since launched operations in the Philippines and in Turkey and seeks to establish itself in other parts of Africa and South America. According to Google its official Twitter account, where South African users ask about membership prices amongst thankful and happy bots posing as other users, claims to be based in Ghana – it also has an odd username.

According to Crowd1, it drew 10,000 people to its launch in South Africa in November. Crowd1’s Instagram account claims to have more than 2 million members worldwide, comments on most of the posts involve bots pushing memberships and people complaining they haven’t been paid.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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