Attempted suicide, suicide, heart attacks — victims of Ponzi schemes branded as investment platforms know these effects well.
Every day, new investment schemes emerge, trying to establish themselves in the market and earn the trust of their target audience. Sometimes, investors get lucky. Other times, they are not, especially in the area of differentiating Ponzi schemes from legitimate investment platforms.
Below are some investments that have been flagged as scams and their patterns of operations.
OVAIOZA FARM PRODUCE STORAGE BUSINESS (OFPB)
The past week saw the fall of Ovaioza Farm Produce Storage Business (OFPB), owned Imu Ovaioza Yunusa a 28-year-old graduate of School of Nursing And Midwifery, Nasarawa State.
Founded in 2020, OFPB made its investors believe it ran a farm produce storage and processing investment scheme.
However, trouble came knocking when Ovaioza suddenly discontinued payment of Returns on Investment (ROI) to her investors in the first quarter of 2021.
In March 2022, when investors complained of non payment of their ROI, she was quick to attribute the problem to the issues are company was having with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), over certification.
In the end, it turned out that Ovaioza had mismanaged billions of naira belonging to thousands of investors.
She was arrested alongside her husband in Abuja while trying to flee the country on April 18.
READ MORE: A Preacher of Love’ — Inside the Facebook World of Investment Fraudster Ovaioza
If Jack of all Trades existed as a person in Mordern day, Marksman Chinedu Ijomah, founder of Chinmark Group would embody him.
From Chinmark Homes and Shelter to Chinmark Farms, Chinmark Rides and Logistics, Chinmark Restaurant & Foods services, Chinmark Medicals Chinmark Consultancy, Ijomah managed to present many options to his target audience.
In December 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared the group and its associate, FINAFRICA Investment Ltd., as illegal investment companies. But this still did not deter people from investing in the group.
The fall of Chinmark Group, as everyone knew it, came in April, when Ijomah was arrested after he was accused of defrauding thousands of investors of billions of naira.
READ MORE: Investor Attempts Suicide, Dies After Losing N30m Family Wealth to Marksman Ijiomah’s Chinmark
Jennifer Nyesome-Effiong, a graduate of Pan-Atlantic University founded Hachi Farms in 2018, she promised her investors mouth-watering ROIs at the end of every three months.
Recently however, investors of the farm produce aggregation company are no longer able to sleep with their two eyes closed as they do not know what has become of the millions they invested in its Paddy Rice Scheme.
Nyesome-Effiong stopped paying them in August 2021 after claiming someone ran away with N250 million meant for the scheme.
Her investors have since been looking for means of getting back their capital, after she promised payment in March but failed to do so.
READ MORE: ‘I Invested 1.5m’ — Another Victim of Hachi Farms Investment Comes Out
Sam Afolabi’s Eatrich Farms is an agritech business that digitalizes farming. They depend on investors’ capitals to farm and produce food.
The end of Sam Afolabi’s Eatrich Farms began in the last quarter of 2021, when he stopped paying investors. While Afolabi has disappeared with investors’ billions, his brother and employee, Timi Afolabi is rotting away in a Lagos prison.
Besides scheming investors of their billions, Afolabi also ‘made other ruthless moves’.
In September 2021, FIJ reported how he arrested his now ex-staff members for protesting against his unwillingness to pay what he owed them.
On March 25, FIJ also reported that he obtained a loan of N88 million, using his employees’ accounts without their knowledge.
READ ALSO: With the Help of Sterling Bank Staff, Eatrich Farms’ Sam Afolabi Fraudulently Obtains N88m Loan With Employees’ Accounts
SIMILAR PATTERNS OF OPERATION
Over time, it has been discovered that these fraudsters bait their unsuspecting investors-victims by deploying similar ‘tactics’.
At an initial stage, they carry out acts that would make them gain the trust of their victims, and when the trust is won, they pounce, and disappear into thin air with billions of naira.
PAYMENT OF RoIs AND CAPITALS AT THE EARLY STAGE OF INVESTMENT
The number glaring move these CEOs make to win their investors trust is the regular payment of promised ROIs at the initial stage of their respective investments.
When this happens, investors feel encouraged to recommend the scheme to family members and friends.
The moment these CEOs feel they have realised enough billions from the scheme, they flee the country.
GIVEAWAY AND PHILANTROPHY
Giveaway and philanthropy are unifying strategies for these investment platforms. At various times, they give out prizes lavishly on their social media platforms.
When they do this, they make their investors and followers believe that money is not a problem, as they are already rich before floating their businesses.
They are masters in the art of running multi-businesses. Like Chinmark, Nyesome-Effiong co-runs a supermarket, a test preparation centre and a restaurant. Eat Rich’s Sam Afolabi once announced the opening of an ultra mall in Igando, Lago State.
Ovaiza is not left out as well. Before her arrest, she ran Relax and Chill, a lounge in Abuja and co-owns Ovaioza Skills Acquisition Center (OSAC), also in Abuja.
Nicknamed ‘Facebook Yahoo Girl’, Ovaioza sold ‘virtue signalling’ to investors and they bought it. Ovaiza presented herself as a strong independent woman, a preacher of love, a philanthropist, and a gospel artist.
READ MORE: ‘Ignorance About SEC’ Fails to Save Ovaioza, as ‘Investors’ Continue Demanding Refund
She also did not forget to work on the emotions of her target audience. She would guilt trip her audience and make them feel they were missing so much by not investing in her business.
LEVERAGE ON AGRICULTURE
The most glaring thing about these schemes is that they mostly hide under agricultural schemes to lure investors. Investors are also eager to part with their capitals because they belief that the agricultural industry thrives because people always need food. These CEOs know it too and they capitalise on it.
Investors can use patterns to judge an investment scheme. A visit to their social media pages will show enough red flags to know that some of them are too lavish for people who claim to be responsible with other people’s money.