The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating a forex fraud case involving two brothers.
According to Punch, about 3,500 persons lost their monies to a binary options company BTD Multi-Global Company founded by Bowofade Adewuyi, a 24-year-old dropout of the Obafemi Awolowo University and his 22-year old brother Adedotun.
The company, it was said, was founded in 2015 and promised 20% returns on “investment” monthly on every deposit.
Trouble began in 2017 when the company stopped withdrawals, after which it shut down its office in Ile-Ife, Osun state and Bowofade and Adedotun fled.
Adedotun was later arrested at a bank in April 2018.
Almost 600 of the victims got a lawyer and petitioned the EFCC and the police division of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“The company fraudulently claimed in all its advertisement materials and terms of agreement to be an investment company that is registered with all necessary regulatory bodies.
“The company further fraudulently claimed… to have taken out an insurance policy that will protect 100 per cent of invested capital of first time investors and 50 per cent of the investment balance (capital plus accrued interests) of existing investors in case of any loss.
“From around February 2015 to around May 2017, members of the public thronged the company with hard-earned millions. Bowofade and his fictitious company on the other hand, though having no licence to run a deposit-collecting financial institution, illegally accepted deposits from over 8,000 members of the public in excess of N2bn, contrary to Section 29(1) and punishable under Section 2 (1) of the Bank and other Financial Institutions Act Cap. B3 LFN 2004,” the letter read in part.
Peniela added that about 4,500 persons closed their accounts.
Adedotun, telling his own side of the story said:
The company was founded in 2014. The vision of my brother was to create a stable financial future for Nigerians. The company invested in futures and option schemes. When he does financial trading, he calculates the returns and delivers back to investors.
From 2015 to 2016, the company started gaining grounds with more depositors coming in. Things were running smoothly and we had terms and conditions. We advised clients that although things were good now, the scheme had its risks.
However, by late 2016, there was a slight loss in the general funds. As of then, my brother still tried to recoup the funds and even got some people to assist him in trading. In April to June 2017, the company experienced a serious depletion of funds.
The company sent emails to clients to explain the situation. We told them that we would go on a six-month recovery period, which ought to terminate in December 2017. However, during this period, we experienced more losses. At the end of the period, it was still difficult to pay people.
In December 2017, we gave the investors two options: terminate your account or choose to re-finance. We had several meetings to explain things to them. After people had been asked to make their choices, we were advised to vacate our office at Ile-Ife, for a week.
On December 27, 2018, we decided to close the office while working from a remote place. The following day, some clients came to the new place, broke the windows into the building and set it on fire. My brother and I with 12 other workers escaped death by a whisker. That was how Bowofade decided to leave town because if anything should happen to him, the funds would be lost. His life is important. The only way for us to get the money back is for us to keep working.
He said he is not aware of Bowofade’s whereabouts since the fire incident.
One of the victims, Pastor Olubunmi Adeleke, who claimed that one Laide Aminu who he introduced to the scheme had died from hypertension, said:
My son, a student at the University of Ibadan, introduced me to the scheme in 2015. He said the company was into forex trading. When we sent money to them, they acknowledged with email. That was before the founder, Bowofade, absconded with our money.
My investment is close to N12m, because I have two active accounts. We used to roll over our profits. Sometimes you can deposit N500,000. When the money increases to, say N750,000, you can leave it for another month to get 20 per cent of that sum.
We started having issues about one year ago when he (Bowofade) said the company wanted to move from binary to premium options. He added that the market was low and we should give him six-month grace period. He said within that time, nobody should withdraw money. We believed him until he ran away.
Aside from myself, many other families have lost their money. A woman I introduced to the scheme recently passed on after she developed hypertension. In my own case, my wife, mother-in-law and two of my children lost money.
A retiree who said he lost N3.2m and his wife N300,000 to the company, said: “The money was my gratuity. I thought I could use the profit to go into farming and other investments. I never made a single withdrawal before the firm collapsed.”
“I stay in Ile-Ife, where the company had its office. I saw their adverts on billboards and posters and that was how I got enticed. Part of the money belonged to my mum; it was her life saving. She was about to retire when she gave me the money and we thought we could use the returns to build our own house after living in a rented apartment for years,” one businessman who said he deposited N1m and identified himself as Tobi, said.
A palm kernel producer in Ondo State, Azeez Ogunnupebi, 25, said he lost N4.7m.
“My brother who lives in the US asked me to build a house for him. I took part of his money to invest in the company with the hope that I could make some money for myself before starting the project. I also invested my money. I have yet to get anything back,” he said.