BBC Africa Eye exposes European Pyramid scams to Africans, others

The BBC documentary contains shocking testimony from a woman in South Africa who spent all her life saving on Crowd1 in the belief that she was buying ‘shares’ in a business that would pay out a ‘salary’.

A new investigation by BBC Africa Eye discovered a global pyramid scam that originated in Europe and used smartphones to cheat ordinary people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Crowd1 describes itself as ‘the fastest growing crowdfunding business in the world’ and delivers videos on social media showing members buying new cars and enjoying luxury holidays.

By using nothing but a smartphone, Crowd1 claims, you can become a millionaire by promoting and selling a range of exciting digital products to your network.

These claims have persuaded thousands of people across Africa to hand over the 99 euros that buy an entry-level membership to Crowd1.

But a six-month investigation by BBC Africa Eye reveals that behind the cunning marketing, Crowd1 collects a series of fake products and false promises to cover an old-fashioned pyramid scheme based on recruitment.

The BBC has found that the recruitment of new members is strongly encouraged by Crowd1.

For example, in its online webinars and events, members are encouraged to sign up for their families, their Facebook friends, and the people they know from church. Successful recruiters earn a commission for bringing in new members, and – as with a classic pyramid scheme – for additional people brought in by the recruiters in Crowd1.

The most important of Crowd1’s products, an ‘educational package’ that you need to get if you want to become a full member, is effectively worthless, the BBC Africa Eye has found.

The scheme has apparently earned a fortune for a handful of European scammers, many of whom are Swedish, but it has left a trail of debt and poverty in countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The BBC documentary contains shocking testimony from a woman in South Africa who spent all her life saving on Crowd1 in the belief that she was buying ‘shares’ in a business that would pay out a ‘salary’.

“My heart is broken,” she told the BBC, “because I wasted all my money that I could have used to buy a house. Now I live in a hut without money. I have no income or I is just in disbelief and ashamed of myself. ‘

Africa Eye also spoke to Samtos, a young man in Lagos, Nigeria, who says that when the Covid19 exclusion hit Nigeria, he was worried about how to earn an income, and that he was ‘sweet’ by a friend. ‘was to join Crowd1. Samtos told the BBC that the scammers in Europe “enjoy everything they collect from poor people.”

BBC Africa Eye’s documentary “Unmasking the Pyramid Kings” can be seen in full on

In his response, Crowd1 told the BBC that it was not a scam or a pyramid scheme and was not in breach of any South African law. They said it is a legitimate network marketing company that offers products to its members and enables them to make money by marketing the products. Crowd1 does not make money from recruitment, but insists on it, but only from these sales. Crowd1 also emphasized that all of its products are genuine.

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