The easy thing to do is point the finger at victims and declare they deserved it. But this is too simplistic an approach, and not entirely fair. Gary Clement / The National
The easy thing to do is point the finger at victims and declare they deserved it. But this is too simplistic an approach, and not entirely fair. Gary Clement / The National

Ponzi schemes are now outwitting even the smartest investors



Principal versus principle is the reason crime often pays.

It pays because in the unraveling of theft, deceit, fraud and the like, principle often overrides principal: the focus can easily become convictions and sentencing versus the return of money. Ergo crime pays. It pays the perpetrator, their family and other benefactors.

It’s 10 years since the most infamous Ponzi case of our time came to light - and Bernie Madoff is set to stay in jail.

The great news is that creditors have so far been paid 75 cents to the dollar – which is an incredible recovery rate for fraud like this. Unfortunately, it’s the exception.

Recovering money ‘invested’ is not always the aim of prosecution in cases like these – why? Because the rule of law, and punishing a perpetrator, is the main aim for many official organisations; getting any money back is a gift of the gods.

You see, there are things working against money being recovered: there being any money to recover, the cost of pursuing recovery, and how to go about it – and having lots of stamina; it’s emotionally draining for those concerned.

The easy thing to do is point the finger at victims and declare they were greedy/stupid/ deserved it. But having looked into this type of deception in quite some depth, this is too simplistic an approach, and not entirely fair.

There are situations I know of where companies have a mix and match approach; some of the business they undertake is legitimate, and covers up the Ponzi part of the outfit. I know of one set up where it started out ‘real’, but when things went south, they replicated their products/ offering, but it was pure Ponzi. The product never existed, but they had the track record, and physical reality of what they were doing elsewhere in the business. People trusted them as a result.

The point I’m making is that Ponzi-type scams have come a long way since the infamous Charles Ponzi.

__________

Read more:

Don't use social media to disguise your financial black hole

Protect yourself and your family in case it all comes crashing down

The right career decision can lead to financial freedom

Knowing my bank balance saved me from becoming a fraud victim

___________

The bad news is that these sorts of schemes will never vanish. In fact, they’re flourishing, with lawyers and regulators struggling to deal with them. The fraudsters often take advantage of a borderless existence or ever-changing jurisdictions and legal loopholes.

If you want to find out more about the state of the Ponzi-world, log onto ponzitracker.com. Its role is to enlighten people , and make them aware that thousands such schemes have been uncovered over the past few years.

To explain the basics, a Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors.

The standard signs that alert to the possibility of a fraudulent ‘investment’ include high returns versus low risk and consistent returns over a period of time.

Another thing to watch out for is a lack of transparency, for example being asked to sign a non-disclosure document, or if the system is complex and does not make sense.

Some of the ways fraudsters instill trust in their often highly educated victims includes associations with known and trusted brands – educational institutes and sporting events. Having their brand on a sponsorship board of a global event does not mean they are legit.

Again, it’s easy to blame the victims for being – well, human; human because they trusted someone, because they liked someone. These are some of the reasons money was given over. Yes, there are the greedy ones too. At the core of the operation is a slick ‘sell’ that pivots on psychology and methodology that makes it tough to say no – or to pin-point what’s ‘off’ about it. Yes due diligence is key – but as mentioned earlier, there are schemes so clever, that they have peppered the web with information that indicates they’re legit, or they have real parts to their setup.

It's a problem that's not going away. The Ponzi Scheme Blog (http://theponzibook.blogspot.com/) outlines the situation for 2018. Have a look - it runs through cases that have come to light around the world. It's by no means a comprehensive list – but it gives you a flavour for what's going on. Shockingly, the number of guilty pleas or convictions stands at four.

The worst thing is that the truth about these schemes usually come to light when people need their money most – say during a market downturn – because two things converge: the fraudster cannot keep up the payments, and the ‘investors’ want to take more out – to cover losses elsewhere, or to shore up capital. This is when it comes tumbling down.

It’s tough work making money – and even tougher keeping it. Now imagine a world where we can have both principal, and principle – is that too big an ask?

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The Good Liar

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen

Directed by: Bill Condon

Three out of five stars

UAE players with central contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Usman, Ghulam Shabbir, Ahmed Raza, Qadeer Ahmed, Amir Hayat, Mohammed Naveed and Imran Haider.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Director: Francis Lawrence

Stars: Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand

Rating: 3.5/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Gold
Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Silver
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Bronze
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

The Color Purple

Director: Blitz Bazawule
Starring: Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo
Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Other IPL batting records

Most sixes: 292 – Chris Gayle

Most fours: 491 – Gautam Gambhir

Highest individual score: 175 not out – Chris Gayle (for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013)

Highest strike-rate: 177.29 – Andre Russell

Highest strike-rate in an innings: 422.22 – Chris Morris (for Delhi Daredevils against Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017)

Highest average: 52.16 – Vijay Shankar

Most centuries: 6 – Chris Gayle

Most fifties: 36 – Gautam Gambhir

Fastest hundred (balls faced): 30 – Chris Gayle (for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013)

Fastest fifty (balls faced): 14 – Lokesh Rahul (for Kings XI Punjab against Delhi Daredevils in 2018)

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Understand What Black Is

The Last Poets

(Studio Rockers)

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The biog

Profession: Senior sports presenter and producer

Marital status: Single

Favourite book: Al Nabi by Jibran Khalil Jibran

Favourite food: Italian and Lebanese food

Favourite football player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Languages: Arabic, French, English, Portuguese and some Spanish

Website: www.liliane-tannoury.com

England v South Africa schedule:

  • First Test: At Lord's, England won by 219 runs
  • Second Test: July 14-18, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, 2pm
  • Third Test: The Oval, London, July 27-31, 2pm
  • Fourth Test: Old Trafford, Manchester, August 4-8
Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Tonight's Chat on The National

Tonight's Chat is a series of online conversations on The National. The series features a diverse range of celebrities, politicians and business leaders from around the Arab world.

Tonight’s Chat host Ricardo Karam is a renowned author and broadcaster who has previously interviewed Bill Gates, Carlos Ghosn, Andre Agassi and the late Zaha Hadid, among others.

Intellectually curious and thought-provoking, Tonight’s Chat moves the conversation forward.

Facebook | Our website | Instagram

 

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Scores

Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
Arsenal 1-0 Huddersfield Town
Burnley 1-0 Brighton
Manchester United 4-1 Fulham
West Ham 3-2 Crystal Palace

Saturday fixtures:
Chelsea v Manchester City, 9.30pm (UAE)
Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur, 11.45pm (UAE)

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 


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