The Carr Report: Is Susu a definite no-no?

by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier

A couple of months ago, I received a Facebook messenger from a friend asking me about Susu? He sent me a link to a video about Susu entitled, “What is SuSu and How does it work? Family Sharing = $4,000.” He asked me to watch it and tell him what I thought about it. I write an online “Ask Damon” E-newsletter. I assumed it was a question for my newsletter. What I didn’t know at the time, he was really trying to recruit me.

I had never heard of Susu. I was in the middle of working on a project. I gave the video a quick 6-minute listen. I replied, I wouldn’t do it. It flows like a Ponzi scheme and Pyramid scheme combined to me. Current contributors are paying into a system to benefit more tenured contributors. I cited Bernie Madoff. I said, “you see how that turned out!” I informed him that the only Ponzi schemes that work long-term are Social Security, Pension Plans, and Insurance. All of these entities pool large groups of people, do sophisticated calculations to determine required contributions, premiums, investment strategy, and probability and timing of payouts, etc. Social Security is on the brink of insolvency. Pension plans are becoming extinct. Insurance Companies? Well, they seem to have this thing figured out. They just keep denying claims, raising premiums, and raising the qualifying bar. They’re hellbent on not paying without obtaining a substantial profit to themselves. Interesting enough, all of these entities have governing bodies, rules, regulations and oversight.

I hit him with some questions. There’s no governing oversite with Susu, is it? Is it even legal? How would this stay afloat long-term? How would the creator make money? I told him that they tell you in the video that most people will not do it. That’s where the Pyramid Scheme comes to mind. For it to work, you have to convince people to get involved. Sounds like a hard grind to me. I told him to “run, Forrest run.” I jotted down Susu in my notes. I figured, I’ll research and write on the subject someday.

Months later, someone tagged me on Facebook about an article titled, “Man who started ‘Turn $100 to $800’ Loom Ponzi Scam has made over 10 million dollars. Opening sentence was, Derek Loom who started the “Blessing Loom” made over 10 million dollars by promising Facebook users $800 if they can refer two other people to the scheme. He’s being investigated. To be honest, that is as much as I read of the article. That’s all I needed to know. Title and first paragraph alone proved my theory to be correct.

A week later, I got another call from a friend talking about some “Blessing Flower.” I stopped him mid-sentence. I told him about the article I read about the founder of this Blessing Flower scam is under investigation.

You guessed it, within a matter of days, another friend of mine I used to work with in banking called me asking, “Damon, why haven’t you covered this Susu, Blessing Loom thing. People are not only talking about it. They’re doing it.” I said, “Wow, I didn’t know that was a thing.” So here I’m finally digging in on this Susu topic. Turns out Susu and The Blessing Loom are two separate things.

What is Susu? A Susu is an informal rotating savings club where a group of people get together and contribute an equal amount of money either weekly, biweekly or monthly into a savings fund. The collected pool of money which is also referred to as a hand is then paid to one member of the club on an agreed-upon rotating schedule. In a perfect world, it’s a forced savings plan. It bears no interest. You generally receive what you put in over an extended period of time. This is something that was practiced amongst people with limited resources. It’s being billed as something to be used exclusively with only people you know and trust. They considered it to be a forced savings plan.

Susu originated in West Africa and is practiced in many African and Caribbean countries.

What is a Blessing Loom? The Blessing Loom has a similar premise. Group of people pooling money to be paid to the person who’s turn it is to be paid. Where they differ is the Bloom is more intense on the recruiting side. They’re not overly concerned about working with a group of trustworthy people long-term.

The mission here is to be one of the first within the group to be paid, then bail. Forcing them to recruit more and more members.

The confusion, the emptiness of promise, the lack of guarantee, the scheme and the high probability of you losing your initial contribution and not receiving anything lies here—people are operating both the Susu and the Blessing Loom as if they’re one and the same. The underlying goal of those getting in on ground level is to give a small initial contribution with the promise of an 800 percent or greater return on investment. Let me explain. Depending on the number of people in your group—usually 8 to 10 determines the ultimate payout when it’s your turn to be paid. Let’s say you have 10 people in the group contributing $500 each. That’s $5,000 total. The person who’s turn it is to be paid will receive $5,000. Sounds like a 1,000 percent return on investment, right? Wrong. For it to work, it’s supposed to keep rotating. The person who received the $5,000 is to go back to the beginning stage and contribute $500. All in all – each member will contribute a total of $5,000 in small increments. Allowing them to reap a large $5,000 lump sum that they can do something with.

What’s actually taking place is the people first in line reap the lump sum $5,000, then bail leaving those left having to recruit more and more people in hope of them cashing in on their scheduled payday.

Is the Susu or Blessing Loom a definite no-no? The Blessing Loom is a scam and is a definite NO! The Susu can work with trustworthy people whom you know that are in it for the long-term. Two problems with this. It’s a bad savings plan with a zero percent return on investment. The reason why it exists is because it’s a group of people who admitted that they don’t have the discipline to save money on their own. So they need an accountability team of like-minded non-savers to forge a union and start saving together. Hmmmm – NO!

(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013. You can also reach him on his website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)

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