Palatial mansions, super exotic cars: How Nigeria’s fake investment gurus live in luxury while victims lament

Ponzi

TESSY IGOMU gives insight into the enthralling lives of Nigeria’s foremost Ponzi scheme gurus, their sudden enrichment, lavish lifestyles and exotic collections, while referencing a gripping life of pain and yearnings of unlucky, high yield-seeking investors ensnared by their many antics

Currently said to be on the run, Bamise Ajetumobi, the founder of Imagine Global Solution Limited, a company that is into a micro lending investment scheme, was accused of expending $50,000 to acquire the citizenship of the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda for himself and his family in a bid to escape the long arm of the law and the wrath of angry and frustrated investors.

The anger of the high yield-seeking investors stemmed from the loss of an estimated N22bn invested in the company established by Bamise and his wife. As claimed by the aggrieved victims, Bamise promised a bogus Return on Investment of between 3.5 and 10 per cent monthly. The funds were said to have been invested in an array of business concerns that included forex, real estate, equities and bonds, among others.

On the company’s website, investors were asked to commit N100m in exchange for a return of between 10 and 36 per cent per annum depending on the capital amount, while a six-month investment was meant to attract six to nine per cent RoI.

However, accusations of lavish lifestyle, deceit and greed, among other factors, crippled Bamise’s capacity to fulfil his promise.

Demand for transparency and accountability to determine the safety of investors’ funds marked the beginning of the collapse of his business empire.

Based on reports, Bamise had within a period of less than five years allegedly amassed so much wealth to purchase property in upscale neighbourhoods in Lagos State and beyond.

Some of the choice properties include a house on Banana Island, classified as one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the world; a plush apartment at the Oakwood Residences, 23 Cooper Street, Ikoyi, Lagos; and another at B4, Gate 3, Lafiaji Road, Victoria Crescent Estate, Olugborogon, Chevron, Lekki, Lagos.

An office located on the first floor of 83 Lewisham High Street, London, England, SE13 5JX, was also registered in the company’s name, among others. Bamise’s exotic cars were said to be worth millions of naira.

Akor Philip’s N4.5m cake.
Akor Philip’s N4.5m cake.

His wife, Elizabeth, was said to be one of the active members of Naija Brand Chic, a popular entrepreneur brand making waves on Instagram, and also owned a domestic staff hiring company known as Aymie Staffing Solutions.

While Bamise and his wife lurk in the ambience of his self-created safety net in another continent, frustrated investors in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, who are unrelentingly driven by a quest to bring him to justice, have reportedly sought the intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the International Police to track them down.

PUNCH Investigations learnt that Bamise’s network of investors were diverse and included institutions like churches, banks, groups and individuals, who invested billions of naira.

Ifunnanya Ohi, a businesswoman, who has yet to come to terms with the loss of her funds, said she was convinced that the business was legitimate even though she had her doubts. The distraught mother of two said when she heard testimonies of consistent returns, especially from friends, she went ahead to invest the N500,000 meant for an association that she belonged to.

“I am still struggling to pay back the money. My business has almost folded up and the issue has put a strain on my marriage,” Ohi lamented.

Bamise’s anecdote, among other excoriating similar scenarios perpetrated by like minded individuals, depicts one of the many mind-boggling financial scams presently rocking Nigeria.

Out of the blues, perpetrators of these fraudulent schemes begin their ill-conceived plans as idealists that sell hope of a better tomorrow to people. Meanwhile, their primary objective is mainly to rob Peter to pay Paul.

For the avoidance of doubt, some of these Ponzi gurus obtain necessary legal documents and backed by an intimidating corporate image, they launch advert campaigns and explore targeted marketing techniques.

To further legitimise their operations and to gain access to millions of people, they offer partnership deals or financial compensations to celebrities for brand endorsements.

Some others even go as far as indirectly linking their companies to highly revered priests or academics to boost investor confidence.

Offering more returns for less financial commitment, gullible potential investors induced by recoupment testaments from early investors are swayed to make monetary commitments to the investment schemes promulgated by the Ponzi gurus.

However, the circle of investments, return on investments and reinvestments into their schemes continue unabatedly until they acquire their desired financial targets.

This propels them to launch their surreptitious plans that lead to systemic collapse, causing monetary losses that plunge unfortunate investors into untold agony.

This, however, expressly depicts what many have widely termed as Ponzi schemes.

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