A court in Kazan arrested one of the founders of the Finiko financial pyramid, Kirill Doronin, for two months. The management of this company lured clients for a year and a half, promising high profitability, having collected more than 70 million rubles in the end. The Ministry of Internal Affairs received more than 100 applications from depositors from different regions of the country. Izvestia has found out how and why the Russians still end up in financial pyramids and whether they can return the lost money.
Detention of the founder Finiko
On July 30, one of the founders of the Finiko financial pyramid was detained in Tatarstan. Kirill Doronin is charged with Art. 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Fraud on an especially large scale”)… In the evening of the same day, a court in Kazan arrested him for two months.
According to the investigation, Between August 2019 and December 2020, the pyramid’s management lured customers, promising a yield of up to 25% per month. These funds were supposed to be received through operations with cryptocurrencies and games on stock markets and various trading platforms, but in fact, investment activity was practically not carried out.
In July 2021 Central bank announced that Finiko has signs of a pyramid scheme, and after a while the company was suspended. It turned out that during the existence of the scheme, its representatives attracted about 70 million rubles.
How noted in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, law enforcement agencies received more than 100 applications from affected depositors from different regions of the country, as well as from the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Izvestia talked to experts and found out how Russians get into financial pyramids, why people still believe in them, and whether it is possible to recover lost money.
Choosing a preventive measure for one of the founders of the Finiko pyramid, Kirill Doronin
Photo: RIA Novosti / Maxim Bogodvid
What is a pyramid scheme
A pyramid scheme is a system where investors receive income from contributions from new members. That is, a closed scheme of money redistribution, Igor Faynman, an expert on personal finance and investment management, explains to Izvestia.
– At the same time, the owners do not forget about themselves: from 10 to 30% of all funds received are withdrawn to offshore accounts, He says.
The pyramid itself works simply: the organizers raise money from the population against promises of income of 20-30% per month, then investors receive profit from the funds of new investors.
– Scammers need to find two investors in the first month and promise them to double their income. Four more people are to get into the net next month. Etc. In 17 months, 250 thousand people will be involved in the financial pyramid. The amount of contributions becomes astronomical – and at this stage everything breaks down, – says the source of Izvestia.
As blockchain expert, investor Dmitry Machikhin adds, default occurs when liabilities exceed receipts.
– In legal terms, the definition of a financial pyramid can be found in Article 172.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, – said Sergey Makarov, Deputy Director of the Capital Markets Department at Accent Capital. – Pyramids do not invest, as licensed brokers do, they simply collect money from some investors to give to others. They have no economic activity at all.
NSThe first and main feature of the pyramid is the promise of fast and high returns with low or no risk, experts conclude. Their creators actively use referral programs to attract depositors, convincing them to take loans, because “everything will pay off quickly.”
– Participants spend large sums, the worst thing is not always their own. Naive citizens apply for loans in banks in order to “earn”, and then file for personal bankruptcy, because they have nothing to pay with, says Fineman.
Photo: Izvestia / Alexey Maishev
How to calculate a pyramid
According to the founder of the digital platform for the development and promotion of legislative initiatives “Initiator” Venus Shaydullina, the pyramid is always easy to distinguish from other financial projects.
– Its main features are the absence of a license from the Bank of Russia to carry out financial activities, guarantees of profitability for depositors above market ones, the opacity of the investment system, the promise of profit by attracting new depositors and non-return of funds on demand, – explains Shaidullina.
Another factor that indicates a fraudulent scheme is aggressive marketing in the media and the Internet, often with the participation of media personalities, singers, actors or athletes.
– The basic rule for the growth of the pyramid is new sacrifices. They are just brought by bright and loud advertising. But this is a signal to think about what this company is doing: big money always loves silence, says Fineman.
Because, nBefore you bring money to the organization, you need to try to check it. For example, check with the manager the scope of activity and request a license from the Federal Commission for the Securities Market / Federal Financial Markets Service of Russia or the Bank of Russia. According to the interlocutor of Izvestia, after that the scammers themselves will lose interest in such a client and switch to another victim.
“In addition, the Bank of Russia publishes on its website an up-to-date list of companies with identified signs of illegal activity in the financial market,” adds Venera Shaydullina. – For example, there is a pyramid disguised as online games “Black Cashier” and “Cauldron”. The founders propose to invest 2.4 thousand rubles, attract eight participants and receive 19.2 thousand rubles. Of course, in the end, everyone is left without money.
According to the expert, recently, most pyramids are created using new technologies – cryptocurrencies. So, in 2020, the Bank of Russia identified the Antares Limited pyramid, attracting investments in 16 regions. The criminals carried out their activities through social networks, and in 16 regions they set up counseling centers.
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
How Russians fall into the pyramids
Usually, new members enter the pyramid schemes through middle managers. These people are well aware that they are entering into a fraudulent scheme, and when it collapses, they run over to another – and that is how they earn.
– They actively lure gullible citizens into their structure through media personalities or famous people. Sometimes word of mouth is also used, recommendations of “lucky” acquaintances, ”says Sergey Makarov.
This is how many people lose money following the example of relatives or friends, adds Igor Faynman.
– The first investors are always lucky: they receive crazy interest on investments and begin to tell others about it, involuntarily dragging them into the game with negative returns. Then the pyramid collapses, and at the same time relations deteriorate, – he notes.
Most often, the victims of pyramids are people who are not familiar with either the principles of financial literacy or with basic knowledge in investment activities. Deep down, Venera Shaydullina believes, everyone is aware of the possible risks, but they hope that they will manage to get out before the collapse of the scheme.
What to do for the victim of the pyramid
The actions of the defrauded depositor should depend on the stage at which he realized that he was involved in the pyramid, says Dmitry Machikhin, an expert in the field of cryptocurrencies, partner of GMT-Legal. If it is still functioning, try to withdraw funds as soon as possible, but without panic.
If the pyramid has already collapsed, you need to unite with other victims and write a statement to law enforcement agencies.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Song
– In case of loss of money, you must contact the police with a statement of fraud, attaching all the evidence of the crime committed, – adds Venera Shaydullina. – If the data of the fraudsters are known, send a claim with a demand for a refund, and in case of refusal to satisfy the demand, file a statement of claim with the court. In parallel, the existence of the pyramid should be reported to the Bank of Russia.
However, Igor Faynman notes in an interview with Izvestia, the likelihood that criminals will be prosecuted is very low – as a rule, they carefully think over all combinations and escape routes in advance. The psychological conditioning of the participants also plays an important role: some of them protect the creators of the pyramid.
– Why are pyramids psychologically attractive to their potential victims? The tool is very close to a casino. You know the risks, but you still go for it, getting an adrenaline rush. In the event of the collapse of the pyramid, many then go to new ones, says Sergey Makarov.
According to the Central Bank, because of one financial pyramid, people lose about 50 million rubles, but in some cases the damage may be higher. Experts interviewed by Izvestia claim that each participant, on average, brings fraudsters from several hundred thousand to several million rubles.
“People give from 300 thousand rubles – they borrow from friends, sell apartments,” says Alexey Lashko, head of the Sodeystvie Group of Companies. – Money is usually transferred by ordinary transfers between individuals. Legally, this is considered a loan, such a transaction can be challenged and recovered from the person who took the money. But the likelihood of this is small – you need to have strong nerves and collection skills.