Fast Money Schemes
175 pages

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175 pages

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In the late 1990s and early 2000s a wave of Ponzi schemes swept through Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the Solomon Islands. The most notorious scheme, U-Vistract, attracted many thousands of investors, enticing them with promises of 100 percent interest to be paid monthly. Its founder, Noah Musingku, was a charismatic leader who promoted the scheme as a form of Christian mission and as the basis for establishing an independent kingdom.

Fast Money Schemes uses in-depth interviews with investors, newspaper accounts, and participant observation to understand the scheme's appeal from the point of view of those who invested and lost, showing that organizers and investors alike understood the scheme as a way of accessing and participating in a global economy. John Cox delivers a "post-village" ethnography that gives insight into the lives of urban, middle-class Papua New Guineans, a group that is not familiar to US readers and that has seldom been a focus of anthropological interest. The book's concern with understanding the interweaving of morality, finance, and aspirations shared by a global cosmopolitan middle class has wide resonance beyond studies of Papua New Guinea and anthropology.



Dramatis Personae

1. Studying Scams

2. The Story of U-Vistract

3. Money Schemes in Melanesia

4. Cargo Cult Mentality

5. Plausibility, Experimentation and Deception

6. U-Vistract and the Prosperity Gospel

7. Negative Nationalism and Christian Citizenship

8. Christian Patrons and Cosmopolitan Sentiments

9. "Some of us are fed up of banks!"

10. Nationals Investing in the Global

Conclusion: Disillusionment

Selected Glossary





Publié par
Date de parution 02 octobre 2018
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9780253035653
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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The Framing the Global project, an initiative of Indiana University Press and the Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change, is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Hilary E. Kahn and Deborah Piston-Hatlen, Series Editors
Advisory Committee
Alfred C. Aman Jr.
Eduardo Brondizio
Maria Bucur
Bruce L. Jaffee
Patrick O’Meara
Radhika Parameswaran
Richard R. Wilk
Robert J. Foster, Editor
Hope and Deception in Papua New Guinea
John Cox
Indiana University Press
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
© 2018 by Indiana University Press
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Cox, John (Anthropologist), author.
Title: Fast money schemes : hope and deception in Papua New Guinea / John Cox.
Description: Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press, [2018] | Series: Framing the global | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018019381 (print) | LCCN 2018022039 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253035639 (e-book) | ISBN 9780253025609 (cl : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253026118 (pb : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Ponzi schemes—Papua New Guinea—History. | Swindlers and swindling—Papua New Guinea—History.
Classification: LCC HV6699.P26 (ebook) | LCC HV6699.P26 C69 2018 (print) | DDC 364.16/309953—dc23
LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18
List of Abbreviations
List of Interview Participants
1 Studying Scams
2 The Story of U-Vistract
3 Money Schemes in Melanesia
4 Cargo Cult Mentality
5 Plausibility, Experimentation, and Deception
6 U-Vistract and the Prosperity Gospel
7 Negative Nationalism and Christian Citizenship
8 Christian Patrons and Cosmopolitan Sentiments
9 “Some of Us Are Fed Up of Banks!”
10 Nationals Investing in the Global
Conclusion: Disillusionment
Glossary of Foreign Language Terms
T HIS MONOGRAPH IS the result of twelve years of research into scams in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands: a remarkable introduction to anthropology. There are many people and institutions to thank, so I will not acknowledge them all here but only those whose support and engagement was critical to the specific project of turning my doctoral research into this publication.
Martha Macintyre must head this list, not only for her role in initiating me into anthropology through the Australian Research Council Project Managing Modernity: Capitalism, Globalisation and Governance in Melanesia, but for her regular encouragement over the past five years. Her “How’s your book going?” was invaluable if not always entirely welcome.
Bob Foster, one of my PhD examiners and the editor of this series, has been extremely patient with me during the writing and editing process. I thank him for having a vision of what the book could be that went well beyond my intellectual horizons and that has deepened my scholarly development greatly. Fred Errington also saw great potential in my doctoral work and I thank him for his generous comments as an examiner of my thesis. His and Bob’s reports have opened many doors, and I am deeply grateful for their academic hospitality in nurturing junior scholars.
Let me also thank a large cohort of colleagues from my time at the Australian National University. Many, like myself, have now moved on to other institutions but I would like to acknowledge the superb camaraderie of Matthew Allen, Jon Altman, Chris Ballard, Chris Chevalier, Melissa Demian, Sinclair Dinnen, Miranda Forsyth, Chris Gregory, Melinda Hinkson, Margaret Jolly, Lia Kent, Kathy Lepani, Sarah Logan, Siobhan McDonnell, Kylie McKenna, Jenny Munro, Thiago Opperman, Gordon Peake, Pyone Myat Thu, Michelle Rooney, Carly Schuster, Tim Sharp, Ceridwen Spark, Graeme Smith, Matt Tomlinson, Grant Walton, and Terence Wood.
The book was completed in Fiji, during a two-month stay at the University of the South Pacific as a School Visitor with the School of Government, Development, and International Affairs. I thank Sandra Tarte, Head of School, for her welcome and I also acknowledge Glen Finau, Romitesh Kant, Jope Tarai, and Jason Titifanue, all productive junior scholars whose intellectual energy is inspiring.
I also express my gratitude to my new colleagues at La Trobe University, who have welcomed me into their ranks in a way that makes me feel deeply affirmed as a scholar and a member of a new team. Thanks to everyone at the Institute of Human Security and Social Change and to Helen Lee and Jack Taylor in Social Inquiry.
Finally, this project would not have been possible without the support of Georgina Phillips, the great love of my life. Her curiosity about the world first drew me into the Pacific more than twenty years ago. The formative experiences that we shared in Kiribati developed relationships and skills that have been the foundation for the various twists and turns of my career. Georgina’s long commitment to improving health services in Papua New Guinea and other developing countries has given me access to many of the people interviewed in this book and a grounding and credibility there that I would not have been able to establish on my own.
The arguments in this book have been refined through processes of reflection and critical review that have taken place through Indiana University Press’s reviewers and those of a number of other publications. Earlier versions of my work on fast money schemes have been explored (to date) in four edited volumes, two Australian National University discussion papers and four articles in the journal Oceania, often as contributions to special editions. I thank the editors and reviewers of each of these publications for their engagement with my work.
Abbreviations ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABG Autonomous Bougainville Government ANZ Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation AOG Assemblies of God ASIC Australian Securities and Investment Commission AUD Australian Dollar AusAID Australian Agency for International Development BPNG Bank of Papua New Guinea BSP Bank South Pacific CBSI Central Bank of Solomon Islands CLC Christian Life Centre DWU Divine Word University FCF Family Charity Fund HRH His/ Her Royal Highness IBOM International Bank of Me’ekamui K Papua New Guinea Kina LLG Local Level Government NFF National Federation of Foundations NGO Non-Government Organisation NRI National Research Institute PM Prime Minister PNG Papua New Guinea PNGBC Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation POMSoX Port Moresby Stock Exchange PV Personal Viability RAMSI Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands RAONK Royal Assembly of Nations and Kingdoms RKP Royal Kingdom of Papala SBD Solomon Islands Dollar SDA Seventh-day Adventist SIG Solomon Islands Government TP Tok Pisin UN United Nations UNDP United Nations Development Programme UNITECH University of Technology, Lae UPNG University of Papua New Guinea USD United States Dollar
Interview Participants Pseudonym Age Occupation Province/ Regional Affiliation 1 Chapter(s) Interview 2 Alphonse 38 Public servant East Sepik (Rabaul) 5 Port Moresby Ambrose 67 Retired tradesman Madang-Bogia 5, 6, 8, 9 Madang Andrew 24 NGO program manager Sandaun 6 Madang Anna 42 School Teacher Madang 2, 5, 10 Madang Balthasar 41 Public servant Madang 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Madang Cephas 46 Small business owner Madang-Karkar 9 Karkar Charlie 44 NGO program manager East New Britain (ENB) 9 Madang Christian 39 Doctor Goroka 6 Port Moresby Dorothy 51 Administrative assistant ENB 6 Madang Felix 48 Carpenter East Sepik 2, 5 Madang Francis 55 Journalist East Sepik 5, 6 Madang Geraldine 47 Accountant Milne Bay 3, 5, 10 Madang Isaac 37 Policeman Mt Hagen 3, 8, 9, 11 Madang Jack 35 Doctor Bougainville 1, 2, 11 Port Moresby Jackson 56 Public servant ENB 6, 7 Port Moresby Lindsay 45 Small businessperson Madang-Karkar 5 Karkar Marie 29 Teacher Bougainville 2 Port Moresby Martin 55 Academic services Madang 5 Madang Michael 31 Catechist Chimbu 8 Nancy 32 Housewife Buka 11 Madang Pastor Paul 42 Pastor East Sepik 6, 10 Pauline 47 Teacher Buka 6, 9, 10 Madang Rebecca 38 Teacher Madang 1, 7, 8, 9, 10 Madang Roga 40 Lecturer Sandaun 4 Madang Thomas 36 Laborer Sepik-Angoram 4, 9 Madang Victor 39 Doctor Madang 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 Madang
1 . These are self-reported places of origin which I take to be typical of how people identify themselves in town. For this reason I do not seek to specify them further. The imprecision also assists in de-identifying individuals. Further descriptions on personal circumstances are found in the text.
2 . All interviews were conducted between April and September 2009.

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