●My spirit has left me; I put over N3m –Victim
●‘What we gave them are our entire savings,the only money we had’
All that glitters is not gold is a well-known aphorism but human beings are yet to take this expression to heart for whatever reason. But for all those who doubted and still doubt that all that glitters is not gold, they should come to Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State and see how men and women who believe that good things come easy have ended up been caught in the web of fraudsters. For some families in Aba, it has been days of cries for help and regret as previously booming private wonder banks empowerment schemes where people are meant to pay in money and get it back in almost dual rate within just one week finally turned out to be the greatest swindling schemes of the 2018 ‘ember’ months.
For several weeks now in Aba, stories of outrageously benevolent, profit packed and out of this world wonder bank empowerment schemes where cash is multiplied in geometric progression within seven days filled the ears of every resident of Aba. As gathered by Saturday Telegraph, it got so hot that some people began to describe it as act of God who in His infinite love and mercy has decided to use the schemes to usher them into the forthcoming Christmas. As unbelievable as the schemes sound, they penetrated through churches and before long, the web of fraud caught both physical and spiritual families.
All hell was let loose on Monday morning when the news of the fraud broke out and so many women trooped into the Aba Area Command of the Nigeria Police and the Central Police Station Aba demanding to be paid their money when they heard that one of the coordinators of the schemes was in police custody.
When Saturday Telegraph caught up with one of the affected persons, Ihuoma Joseph, at Aba Central Police Station, she said the company she paid her money to is called Unique Sisters and that she is yet to believe she had been defrauded. She added that all her savings so far had been put into the scheme. She stated that the wonder bank she paid to had shut down and their signpost had also since disappeared.
She said: “When we started the payment, the company was at No5 Nicholas Street, but they had now disappeared. I am involved, my brother’s wife and my elder sister are also fully involved. My own is Nine Hands which is 40, 000 multiplied by nine which is 360, 000. My brother’s wife and my elder sister are two different cases. We are deeply involved because that money we paid is the only money we had.
“The payment method is called ‘hand’. In unique sisters where I was a customer one hand is N40, 000. That 40,000 is expected to yield N70, 000 for whoever paid in within a period of seven days. There are some other companies that demand N41, 000 to pay N70, 000, others also collect N39, 000 to pay 60,000. But Unique’s was so enticing and attractive to everyone because of the 40, 000 to get N70, 000.
The thing got so big that people that were initially patronising other companies trooped into Unique. The woman involved in the scheme doesn’t have the mind of settling people. All she does is to keep lying to people. “The company and the woman who coordinate things tricked us that they and other companies involved in the empowerment scheme would shut down by pitsecond week of December, but they hurriedly closed in October. What we gave them are our lives savings, the only money we had. If this swindling story ends up being true, I think I am finished. Personally I started paying a fortnight ago.
She pays every seven days. She was supposed to pay some of us on Friday and she failed. “Last Saturday she explained to us that banks don’t work and moreover it was on environmental sanitation day which you know very well is a difficult day to move in Aba. Some people who got their money that last week Friday employed the services of some soldiers and policemen to get their money.
Those who had no one to speak for them got nothing. It happened that all those who couldn’t get their money angrily got her arrested. We heard she is here that is why we are here to get our money.” A trader at the Ariaria identified simply as Mrs. Uchechukwu who was also affected revealed that she was a customer of one of the wonder banks known as ‘The Unstoppable”.
She said that she got to know about the wonder bank through their choir leader in one of the popular Pentecostal churches in Aba who told her and other choir members that the scheme is extremely genuine. Uchechukwu who could not control her emotions as she wept profusely added that she went as far as borrowing money to add to her own personal funds to pay to the wonder banks.
The mother of three who revealed the situation is likely to wreck her home also revealed that she recently put in some money in another wonder bank called Unique Sisters before the whole thing turned awry, said she may not live to bear the pain. “I am alive, but my spirit has left me. All my life savings including the ones I borrowed have gone down the drain.
I put over N3m in the two companies with Unstoppable as my first. I was told by my choir leader that it pays. She told me how she did it and got all in return, but now my own case has become a different issue. “All I am begging police and other persons to help me do is to at least recover even half of what I put into the hands of those people.
I don’t want the profit again. I am not even shouting to get my total capital back, but at least let me get something reasonable back because I cannot bear both the blames and regrets that will follow this issue. My house is already on fire. You don’t understand because if you do, you will see my pains and help me beg them.
I am dead! This is not life anymore.” Also speaking to our reporter as cries and stories of regret were flying at the police station, Pastor Chibuike Ogbonna said that such schemes thrive in cities like Aba because of greed and love for fast, ill-gotten wealth. He said: “The bible does not lie. It says in the book of Proverbs 20:17 that ‘bread of deceit is sweet to man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.’ Somebody brought the unbelievable story of this wonder bank empowerment scheme to my church and I blatantly urged my members to desist from it because experience is the best teacher.
They nearly penetrated my church as they did to most in the city, but I stood in the gap because I knew the scheme would never go far before fraud comes up. “People should be careful about the kind of things they get involved in. When shall our people learn to differentiate between fraud and favour? They see everything as favour from God to make money. A woman who is my neighbour collected all the money in her account, the one in the family’s joint account and paid those fraudsters. As I speak to you now, the man has invited her people because initially he thought his wife was defrauded of the little money in her account, but he never knew that the woman made away with everything meant for next year’s family budget including children school fees.
“This kind of thing also happened last year when a ponzi scheme called MMM almost made people mad. Here they are again trying to cheat the law of labour before wage. Anyone who tried to cheat the law and wants wage without labour is also a criminal and should not be pitied. How can someone collect N40, 000 from you and pay you N70, 000 in just one week? Where is she getting the funds? The mathematics is simple, she is defrauding others to pay you and one day, you will also be unlucky and get defrauded.” Abia State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna could not be reached as at the time of filing this story, but a senior police officer who spoke to our reporter anonymously described the wonder bank scheme as a new fraud in town which many resident ignorantly fell for, but added that police would never allow such fraud to reign in the city.
“The only way police got to know about it was when some persons went to attack a woman who was said to be a coordinator of one of the empowerment schemes at one of the banks within the city. The manager there used some policemen on duty to save the woman from been lynched by the angry people she is indebted to. “All we did was just a rescue mission. These people have been defrauded by many persons. It is not only the woman of Unique that is involved.
There are many groups and their phones according to the women have not been reachable. Immediately they heard that she has been brought to the police station, all of them rushed down here and there is no way we can throw her out to be killed. There are so many organisations involved. “Most of them don’t even know their coordinators.
They paid money to people they don’t even know their names and whether their businesses are registered. The scheme is scattered all over Aba and so many families are now involved. None of them reported to police. We only got involved when they tried to lynch the woman in a bank, but we will never allow fraud to reign in this city.
“The woman was even brought to a nearby station with the help of some military men. Most of the people loitering about the police station are very aggrieved and when that woman is exposed they can do anything to her because even as at now most of them don’t even know her. She must endeavour to pay them through their banks and not at the police station because police station is not a bank and before you know it people will start saying unprintable things about how they were paid half of their money at the police station.