“Do you want to double your money in 10 days?”

Investment scams tend to start off the same way. 

Whether it’s a social media advert or a video of a celebrity telling you that an ‘investment platform’ made them millionaires overnight.

They all echo an alarming promise: “give us your money and we will give you more returns than you’ve ever seen in the market – oh and did we mention your money is sure to come back to you?”

These offers always seem too good to be true. And they usually are.

Over the past few weeks, two different scams have been uncovered in Nigeria. Insha-Allahu Investment is the latest of them. 

With a business name that roughly translates to ‘If God Wills’, the company’s CEO is currently on the run after promising investors up to 20% Return on Investment (ROI) in two months. Many of the investors put in their life savings and in one case, their inheritance in a bid to multiply their money.

Investment is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It requires work. The work on your part as the investor is to perform due diligence and ensure your money is going to the right place.

It’s safe to say that many more investment scams will continue to spring up. Days after Brisk Capital’s CEO was arrested for fraud, a tweet featuring a popular celebrity made the rounds. 

In it, the actor claimed that the company, Millionaires Club Investment, would give you 50% ROI (Return on Investment) in 3 days.

“Okay, but how?”

This is a question that should follow every claim of returns. If a company tells you they plan to give you 30% of your money back in say, a month as Brisk Capital did, it’s important to ask for details of how exactly they plan on making those returns. 

I spoke to Adedayo Bakare, COO of Money Africa and Oluwatomi Solanke, CEO of Trove Finance to get an idea of how to gauge if a deal is too good to be true.

They both agree that there is a relative benchmark to employ when discussing investments in the country – it’s called the MPR (Monetary Policy Rate) – it’s usually around the price of most of the government’s debt instruments – like bonds and treasury bills.

As of March 2021, the MPR for Nigeria was 11.5% per year. To find out how much that is monthly, we just need to divide by 12 and we have roughly 0.96% per month. 

So as a rule of thumb, if you have any ‘investment platform’ offering you significantly more than 0.96% ROI per month then you should proceed with caution. If they’re offering less, then you shouldn’t bother with them at all because you could get more by buying debt instruments directly from the government.

Investment is, by nature, risky. Legitimate investment platforms are usually keen to inform you of the risks involved when you’re putting your money with them. If a person is promising you 30% monthly and telling you it is low-risk then they are already lying to you and you should not bother doing business with them.

This is the first step in finding out if an ‘investment opportunity’ is a scam – investigate their ROI claims and how they intend to turn them into a reality.

If a company tells you they are investing in the stock market – which admittedly can give you high returns – you must be aware of the risks. The market is volatile and can move up or down very quickly.

If they say they are investing in real estate then, as an investor, the onus is on you to ask questions about the real estate offerings. Are they selling land? Renting out buildings? How exactly are they able to make that much money from renting or selling land within a short time frame.

If you find that a company’s explanation for the ‘how?’ is satisfactory, then you should go on to the next item on our checklist: Regulation.

“And you are licensed by…?”

This is probably one of the most essential checks you must perform before you hand over funds to an investment company. 

It is not enough that a company is ‘registered’ as a business. Any street-smart hustler can register a business.

An investment platform you are considering must be either: registered with the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), or be affiliated with a company that is licensed by the SEC or the CBN.

A company claiming to be a financial services company of any kind that has no connection to the SEC or CBN is one to approach with extreme caution.

To be extra sure, when a company tells you they are licensed with the SEC or gives you their affiliate company (or trustee), you can click here to confirm their eligibility.

“Who did you say you were again?”

Continue your due diligence by looking into the company’s track record.

It is important to find out what credentials the owners or managers of these companies have. In the case of Dominic Joshua, a quick search would have raised some doubt about the veracity of a 21-year-old investment wunderkind with no real track record.

This step is especially important when you speak with referees or the company’s brand ambassadors. You shouldn’t put your money into a company just because a friend or family member told you it was great. 

You should also check the company’s track record and find out if fraud allegations have been levelled against its founders, senior leaders, or board members.

Platforms like ours, Nairaland and even Facebook have been around long enough to have picked up news on all kinds of scams and their perpetrators. It would be good to search for the names of those people and companies and see what comes up.

Finally, making wise and well-informed investment decisions is a great idea but the journey to financial freedom is no walk in the park and requires careful research. 

So the next time you or a loved one are faced with a new ‘investment opportunity,’ we recommend you share this article with them.

*This is not investment advice

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Edwin Madu | Author

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