Sergei Mavrodi, an eccentric Russian mathematician who founded the notorious MMM pyramid or Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s that swindled millions out of their savings, has died, his assistant said on Monday.

Mavrodi, whose bespectacled face once featured on vouchers issued by the grandiose scheme, died at age 62, his assistant Alexander Vlasov said.

He was found unconscious at a public transport stop, Interfax news agency reported, citing a source.

A mathematician who became one of the earliest computer programmers, Mavrodi first went into business selling pirated videos and CDs. He founded a company called MMMM that initially imported office equipment.

He then gave up trading and founded the financial pyramid of the same name that became the largest in Russia.

Lured by a catchy television advertising campaign, an estimated 10 to 15 million people invested and received vouchers that promised a huge return.

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