By Ehichioya Ezomon
Closing the first installment of this series, I promised to reveal how I decided to invest in the “Opay Investment Funds” (‘Opay IF’), and my encounters with ‘Emeka Nwafor,’ the scheme’s Head of Administration, a persuasive and yet combative fellow.
There’re several warning signs before I invested N50,000 in the funds. I didn’t see them as a bad omen, but in hindsight, they’re discernible as such to “non-captive” participants. For instance:
* ‘Mr Nwafor’ referencing the name of God and Jesus, to deliver on investments. Why should he ask participants to trust in the Supreme being for a scheme he’d claimed was scam-free?
* During the investment “processing,” he said I was “offline,” but I wasn’t. He wanted to ensure I stayed to complete the process.
* That payment be made through Caroline Adeoye’s account, 2400326184, at Zenith, instead of “directly” to the coin base company. Was Ms Adeoye really the company’s “accountant”?
* ‘Mr Nwafor’ wanted to know if I “receive alerts,” even when I electronically transferred the N50,000 to the designated account!
* That I should testify on the platform immediately I received my credit alert, just to ensure I deliver the N50,000 to his coffer.
Yet, I ignored these red flags, and placed trust and investment in a money-doubling scheme, and a lead ‘administrator’ like ‘Mr Nwafor’ who’s cagey when asked about the realness of the platform.
It’s my fault, and I take responsibility for the action, which, sadly, stemmed from the desire to get funds to take care of two matters: health issues and provision of accommodation in my village.
I have life-threatening ailments: high blood pressure, prostrate enlargement, which are medically associated, and other related diseases developing therefrom.
Experiencing side effects – stomach cramps, excessive perspiration and increased palpitation – from allopathic drugs to control the ailments, I was advised to go for homeopathic remedies.
An orthodox medical doctor, versed in homeopathic practice, has recommended the products of a supplement, which tackle diseases from the cellular level in the body, and with no side effects.
But I was handicapped, financially, from the get go. Problematic was the conduct of a “general test,” to determine the nature and extent of the ailment(s), not to mention follow-up treatments.
Thus, I had recourse to an SOS (Save-Our-Souls) message to some of my friends/colleagues, and only a couple of them responded. And together with a “widow’s mite” from some relatives, I was able to carry out the test, and commence the therapy.
On this score, my heart-felt gratitude to Mr Nduka Irabor, Mallam Garba Shehu, Mr Ayodele Ojo (colleagues/friends); Mr Mike Ehiaguina, Mr Sunday Idiake, Mr Gabriel Ebhodaghe (relatives); and Barr Clement Ijie and Mr Ibolo Ijie (brothers-in-law).
Can these kind-hearted individuals sustain the footing of my medical bills in this economic downturn? It’s the reason I had embraced getting an “instant financial relief” from investing in the ‘Opay IF’, to shift the burden away from my benefactors.
But meeting the minimum investable sum of N50,000 posed another lacuna, as there’s a shortfall of N30,000 to qualify to invest in the financial scheme. The only way out was my elder daughter, to lend me N30,000 – a decision I greatly and sincerely regret now.
The money, saved by the siblings, was towards fixing even a single room in the uncompleted building I had started in 2010, so, to quote them, “we can have a place to stay whenever we visit the village.”
Owing to the lack of accommodation, I haven’t gone to the village in years, as I learnt that the one room “allocated” to me at the “family compound” in 2011 was no longer available for my use.
It’s the N30,000, and the N20,000 I had also saved, hoping to grow it to N100,000, to enable me buy six packets of the supplement for my ailments, that amounted to the N50,000 I had invested and lost in the ‘Emeka Nwafor’ promoted “Opay Investment Funds”.
So, what began as a curious participation in a scheme that claims to “double” investors’ funds blew up in my face, and wiped out the “seed money” earmarked to purchase packs of a supplement product for my health, and fix a habitable space that members of my family could proudly call their property in our community.
In all, the ‘Opay IF’ isn’t a walk-in-the-park platform for “investors” that want to “double their stakes” in a matter of hours. Its WhatsApp page is an arena of contestations from all sides.
It contains: * Promotions of registration for investment, payouts and congratulations to investors * Praises of ‘Mr Nwafor’ for ameliorating investors’ financial conditions, and recommendation of the scheme to relatives, friends and colleagues * Queries by some participants about the genuineness of the outfit, and how their names were added to the page * Heated arguments, and ‘Mr Nwafor’ warning the doubters to “exit quietly” from the platform.
These contestations, particularly from sceptics that need evidence, for instance, of the funds’ registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and ‘Mr Nwafor’ viewing same as a request to expose the “company’s secrets,” are enough red flags for would-be investors in the scheme.
But as the sage would say, a fated dog doesn’t listen to its master’s whistle, or what’s destined to happen must come to pass, to serve as a lesson to the victim, and for others to learn from it.
Note that participants, who’d fallen for ‘Opay IF’ gimmicks, have nothing else but ambition, belief, desperation, greed, persuasion, trust, or some or all of the alternatives to sway their decision.
Still, I should emphasis that a particular gambit by the ‘Opay IF’ to display an on-air profile of a Business anchor of a national television network was the final determinant for me to invest in the scheme.
Perhaps, at that point, I had passed the stage of self-restraint, to care to cross-check with the Broadcast Journalist if he’s part of the ‘Opay IF’, as his image was portrayed by the promoters or ‘administrators’ of the platform.
Trusting in the “presence” of a Journalist on the platform, I fell for the ‘Opay IF’ scam, to double my investment of N50,000 within four hours – between 11:14 am and 3 pm – on Saturday, May 1, 2021.
But minutes after I transferred the sum, ‘Mr Nwafor’ deleted his profile photograph on his WhatsApp page, and blocked my participation in the “Opay Investment Funds” group, to wit: “Opay IF (Emeka Nwafor) removed you. You can’t send messages to this group because you’re no longer a participant.”
That means I couldn’t access the “Opay Investment Funds” platform, to report/complain about non-payment of returns on my N50,000 investment, and thereby expose the scheme as a scam.
It’s one month today, Monday, May 31, 2021, and ‘Mr Nwafor’ hasn’t paid the N100,000 (N50,000 invested and N50,000 profit), nor replied to the message I posted to his page on May 3, 2021.
In any game, there’s an exception to the rule. So I thought on account of my interactions with ‘Mr Nwafor’, and his avowal that ‘Opay IF’ wasn’t a scam. But the leopard cannot change its spots!
LAST LINE: Next: My communications with “Emeka Nwafor” in five days (April 28 to May 1, 2021) and my staking in “Opay Investment Funds” that got my fingers burnt via a ruthless operator.
Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.