By Oludare Mayowa
Nigerians from all walks of life lost an estimated N254.43 billion to ponzi scheme between 2018 to 2021, according to an extensive report by Punch Newspaper on Friday, detail how some unscrupulous businessmen and women schemed money out of their fellow country people.
The report, which details how phony companies disguised as forex trading platforms, investment in corn, fishery and piggery farms, Transportation and logistics firms and real estate and fund management firms, collected huge money from gullible Nigerians both home and in diaspora with mouth watering Returns on Investment only to default on their obligations.
The biggest heist was by one of the ponzi scheme which ended up defrauding many gullible investors of over N171 billion in the guise of helping them to trade in forex with purported 15 percent return on investment every 30 days with a minimum capital investment of N360,000 and up to N5 million.
MBA Trading and Capital Investment Limited was a popular forex trading firm owned by Maxwell Odum, who had positioned his company as a top range foreign exchange trading platform and encouraged innocent Nigerians to invest in his company with promise of huge RoI, which never came.
Another promoter of ponzi scheme is Adewale Jayeoba, the chief executive of Wales Kingdom Capital Limited who eventually defrauded many of his investors of over N40 billion. He had promised a return on investment of 25 percent monthly to those who trusted him with their money.
Also involved in the outlandish scheme to defraud many Nigerians of their money were a couple, Bamishe and Elisabeth Ajetunmobi, the directors of Imagine Global Solution Limited. By the time investors in their phony company could realise, they have been fleeced of an estimated N22 billion in various investments.
Ajetunmobi, a former banker with the Zenith Bank Plc was said to have even lured many of his former colleagues in the bank not only to work for him but also encouraged them to invest bulk of their savings into his ponzi scheme that eventually went down the drain.
Akor Phillip Paul, who floated Benignant Forte Nigeria Limited also went away with N10 billion of investors fund. His promise to pay them between 6-15 percent RoI on monthly basis was part of the scheme to defraud them of their money.
Another of the smart alec, who presented himself as investor in the agricultural sector of the economy with the aim of helping to bridge the gap in maize shortage in the country also went away with investors over N1 billion.
HO Corn Farm, owned by Harrison Osemwengie had lured many innocent but gullible investors to path with their money, which he had promised to invest in a 30,000 acres of corn farm with a mouth watering returns of 50 percent on their investment.
Also, from Brisk Capital Limited, owned by a 21-year old Dominic Joshua, who went away with N2 billion invested in his phony company, DHIL owned by Olugbenga Olaniyan who defrauded investors to the tune of N128 million, to Baraza Multipurpose Cooperative Society owned by Miebi Bribena a forex trading company and Voltac Global Capital owned by Dapo Abiola who scammed investors in his scheme to the tune of N1.8 billion.
Other listed in league of ponzi schemes that their founders are currently on the run are Eatrich owned by Sam Afolabi who promised to invest the money collected from investors into fish farms with RoI of 30-35 percent twice in a year and The Map owned by Anyanso Mma, who collected an estimated N7.5 billion from investors and promised to invest the money in logistics bike with mouth watering RoI.
The common factor among the investment firms is the mouth watering returns on investment, which made their scheme irresistible to gullible investors who have eventually lost huge money to their fraudulent compatriots.
In a statement on June 21, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had issued a disclaimer on one of the ponzi scheme, MBA Capital and Trading Limited, stating that the company was not one of the firms registered to perform capital market activities.
“The Commission wishes to inform the general public that MBA Capital and Trading Limited has never been registered by the Commission.
“The Commission also uses this medium to remind the general public that by virtue of Section 38 (1) of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, only persons and institutions registered with the Commission are permitted to engage in capital market activities,” the commission wrote in the statement.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the SEC and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has at one time or the other embarked on public enlightenment to warn Nigerians on the activities of ponzi scheme.
However, many victims of these schemes have naturally succumbed to their greed for more what seems attractive returns on investment while many of them were lured by the religion garb displayed by the promoters of the scheme to attract more victims to their scheme.
For instance, the promoter of MBA Trading and Capital Investment, Odum was a prominent member of a major Pentecostal Church based in Lagos, and he has received commendation and award from the founder of the church with a large followership.
Another of the scheme promoter, Miebi Bribena of Baraza Multipurpose Cooperative Society was a pastor of same church with large followers while both Mr and Mrs Ajetunmobi have been associated with another popular pastor with large membership in Lagos.
Many of the schemers leveraged on their connection with such religion outfits to defraud their victims and were able to get away with their scheme due to the compromised system that did not provide opportunity for victims to get justice and redress.
Analysts said despite the huge money lost to the phony companies listed above, many Nigerians are not deterred by past losses as they will continue to invest their money in new scheme, promoted by some fraudulent compatriots as long as their greed take the better part of them.