M.S. Guru’s Emu-Raising Ponzi Scheme
In India, thousands of citizens were duped out of an estimated $50 million after authorities uncovered a massive Ponzi scheme that promised steady returns supposedly generated not from stocks, not from options … but from raising emus.
Guru operated Susi Emu Farms (“Susi Farms”), which promised potential investors a weekly return of $120 in exchange for a $3,000 investment that supposedly purchased a baby emu. Susi Emu Farms took on the obligation of raising the emu, and investors were told that the returns were possible because of the alleged value in emu meat and oil. The dependable returns, as well as the use of advertising featuring popular Indian film stars, caused the scheme to spread like wildfire. In total, authorities estimated that Susi Farms took in more than $100 million from at least 8,000 investors.
However, the truth was that neither the meat nor the oil from emus was valuable. When incoming investor funds were not enough to sustain the growing obligations to existing investors, the scheme collapsed and Susi Emu Farm executives fled town.
In an unusual turn, when it was revealed that at least 100,000 emus were abandoned and left to starve, the Indian government was forced to step in and purchase $200,000 in emergency rations to feed the emus.
M.S. Guru was arrested by Indian authorities 2012 and charged with conspiracy and cheating after the scheme unraveled.