Ogadi Ngozi, a highly ranked MMM participant based in Delta state, in southern Nigeria, says the authorities only disapprove of MMM because the scheme is costing local banks some customers. ”Nobody goes to the banks for loans anymore,” Ogazi tells Quartz. “Why go there and collect loans at outrageous interest rates when you can help one or two persons in MMM and be smiling with a 30% reward?” Ogazi also insists participants are aware of “participating at their own risk.”

Given the tough economic woes, MMM participants staunchly defend their involvement in the scheme citing the government’s inability so far to make life better for Nigerians. And that reality is making the scheme even more popular as, at the time of writing, rankings by Alexa, a web traffic data and analytics company, show MMM’s websites are the fifth and 14th most visited in Nigeria, only behind Google’s global and Nigerian sites, YouTube, Yahoo but ahead of Facebook. Julie, a Lagos-based participant, plans to continue to risk her money despite the government’s warning. “The government can say what they like. If they can’t assist us, they should leave us alone.”

For its part, the Nigerian government has tried to crack down on the scheme. EFCC, Nigeria’s economic and financial crimes watchdog, says it has begun investigations. But it also admits it could be a tough ask as the scheme is “faceless.” By design, the scheme does not run a сentral bank account which holds all the money. Instead, participants transfer money to each other directly “without intermediaries“. The Central Bank has tried to crack down on bank accounts with any cash deposits involving MMM but participants are also finding a way past that.

While the government has not had much luck so far trying to rein in the scheme, Andrews believes it is only a matter of time before, like most similar schemes, MMM dies a natural death. “In 2007, there was a different set of Ponzi schemes, just as there where a different set in the early 2000s. They all crashed eventually as MMM will,” Andrews told Quartz. “I think one went on for almost three years before crashing, but eventually they all do.”

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.