BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others

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The best scams always come in disguise. And Crowd1 may be one of the the most audacious scams out there.

It looks like a high-tech marketing business that’s making a ton of money for people across Africa. All you need is a smartphone and some hustle. But behind the promises and the hype, BBC Africa Eye’s Ayanda Charlie finds some ugly truths, some wealthy scammers, and a whole pyramid of lies.

A new investigation by BBC Africa Eye has uncovered an audacious global pyramid scam, run from Europe, that is using smartphones to cheat ordinary people across Africa, Asia and Latin America.BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others Brandspurng

Crowd1 describes itself as “the fastest growing crowd marketing company in the world” and produces social media videos that show members buying new cars and enjoying luxury holidays.

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

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

These claims have persuaded thousands – perhaps millions – of people across Africa to hand over the 99 Euros that buys an entry-level membership to Crowd1.

But a six-month investigation by BBC Africa Eye reveals that behind the slick marketing, Crowd1 is peddling a range of bogus products and false promises to cover an old-fashioned pyramid scheme based on recruitment.

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BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others Brandspurng1

The BBC has found that the recruitment of new members is heavily incentivised by Crowd1.

In its online webinars and events, members are encouraged to sign up 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 any additional people brought into Crowd1 by those recruited.

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The most important of Crowd1’s products – an “educational package” you have to get if you want to become a full member – is effectively worthless.

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The scheme appears to have made a fortune for a handful of European scammers, many of them Swedish, but it has left behind a trail of debt and poverty in countries, including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The BBC documentary includes devastating testimony from a woman in South Africa who spent her entire life savings 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 am living in a shack, with no money.

“I don’t have an income or a business.

“I’m just in disbelief and I am ashamed.”

Africa Eye also spoke to Samtos, a young man in Lagos, Nigeria, who said that when the COVID-19 lockdown hit Nigeria, he was concerned about how to earn an income and was “sweet-talked” into joining Crowd1 by a friend.

Samtos told the BBC that the scammers are in Europe “enjoying everything they are gathering from poor people”.

Crowd1 told the BBC that it is not a scam or a pyramid scheme and does not break any South African law.

They said it is a legitimate network-marketing company that offers products to its members and enables them to earn money by marketing those products.

Crowd1 does not make money from recruitment, they insist, but only from these sales.

Crowd1 stressed that all its products are genuine.

Launched in April 2018, BBC Africa Eye is a bi-weekly TV and online investigations series broadcast in English, French, Hausa and Swahili.

Using pioneering techniques and a large network of on-the-ground reporters, BBC Africa Eye has uncovered hidden local stories across Africa and held power to account.

The unique investigations tackle topics that are of interest and concern to young and underserved audiences and aim to strengthen and encourage investigative journalism across the region.

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BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand SpurBBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand Spur

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BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand SpurBBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand Spur

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DHL donated IDR2.4 billion to SOS Children’s Villages in six years of partnership in Indonesia

  • With DPDHL Group's support and contribution of €140,000 (IDR2.4 billion) since inception, program has benefitted more than 2,500 young people in Indonesia
  • GoTeach program aims to improve youth employability, especially now with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Media OutReach - 8 March 2021 - DHL Global Forwarding, the leading international freight specialist arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group (or DPDHL Group), today commemorates six years of partnership with SOS Children's Villages (SOSCV) at a DHL GoTeach Donation Ceremony. Working together with the non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on supporting children without parental care and families at risk, DPDHL Group has reached out to more than 2,500 beneficiaries in Indonesia through mentorship and educational activities and a contribution of €140,000 (IDR2.4 billion) since 2014.


BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand Spur

"As one of the largest employers in the world, the Group is supportive of programs that prepare job seekers for the working world, especially during such challenging times. Today, we are proud to commemorate our six years of partnership with SOS Children's Villages at the DHL GoTeach Donation Ceremony," said Thomas Grunau, Global Head of Business Strategy & Digitalization, DHL Global Forwarding.

During the ceremony, Grunau presented a donation of €5,000 to SOSCV Indonesia in support of the Pandemic GoTeach project, which offered an online employability training to more than 1,000 young people all over Indonesia in 2020. With the support of 12 volunteers, the online training sessions, covering employability related topics such as job interview and resume writing skills, will continue in 2021 until social distancing measures ease up. The program is the brainchild of Elok Vinindya Wardhani, Marketing and Corporate Communications, DHL Global Forwarding Indonesia, who was recognized for her initiative and effort with the organization's CEO award in the category sustainability.

DHL Global Forwarding Indonesia President Director, Vincent Yong said, "In today's rapidly changing world, education paves the way to a stable, sustainable and prosperous tomorrow. Through the GoTeach program, DHL hopes to help the youth in Indonesia to develop the skills and confidence to enter the professional world. With 509 employees across all business divisions volunteering for more than 3,000 hours in the past six years, GoTeach also delivers opportunities for our employees to actively contribute and play a role in the community."

GoTeach is a group-wide corporate responsibility program aimed at improving youth employability for those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Educational and mentorship activities are regularly organized to better prepare them to enter the working world.

"The sustainability and power of an economy and the society depend on a strong educational system and targeted efforts to develop the next generation of working professionals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, jobs and livelihoods have been impacted, deepening the need for training and mentoring programs, such as GoTeach, for our youth to continue to develop their competencies and capabilities to reach their dreams. SOS Children's Villages is happy and proud to join hands with DHL Indonesia to deliver on this commitment," said Gregor Hadiyanto Nitihardjo, National Director SOS Children's Villages Indonesia.

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 24 million students who have dropped out of school as a result of the pandemic, adding to the 870 million students or half of the world's student population in 51 countries who have yet to return to school.

In Indonesia, DHL Global Forwarding together with DHL Express and DHL Supply Chain have continuously focused on developing youth's potential since 2014, sharing knowledge on soft and hard skills as well as supporting career development and employability for young people. The GoTeach program has been conducted in several locations across Indonesia such as Meulaboh, Banda Aceh, Medan, Jakarta, Lembang, Semarang, Bali and Flores. For the past six years, DHL employees have actively become mentors in several GoTeach activities such as skill preparation, job shadowing, DHL facility tours, internships and dream camp activities at SOS Children's Villages to improve employability. The initiative is also part of DPDHL Group's effort to contribute to local communities where they operate.


DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Our DHL divisions offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. With about 380,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, DHL connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global sustainable trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including technology, life sciences and healthcare, engineering, manufacturing & energy, auto-mobility and retail, DHL is decisively positioned as "The logistics company for the world".

About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children's Villages is a non-profit organization that provides alternative care for children who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. Founded in 1949 in Innsbruck, Austria, SOS Children's Villages now are in 136 countries, including Indonesia. Today, Indonesia SOS Children's Villages have nurtured and assisted more than 5.500 children in 11 cities in Indonesia: Lembang, Jakarta, Bogor, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Tabanan, Maumere, Banda Aceh, Meulaboh, Medan, and Palu. For further information, visit: www.sos.or.id | @desaanaksos


*Special Notes

SOS Children's Villages prioritizes family-based care and we form substitute families for children who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. The Mothers and Children establish a family relationship with each other just like any family out there (family-care), so we avoid terms such as an orphanage, foster child, foster mother, and orphans that is replaced with the term a child who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. In SOS Children's Villages, we also pay close attention to children's interests and we also protect their privacy, so any information that is related to their background and personal matter will only be shared with particular parties and will not be published to the public.

BBC Africa Eye uncovers Crowd1 global pyramid scam run from Europe to dupe Nigerians, others - Brand Spur
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