Tingo Group, a Nigerian Agri-Fintech, has seen its share price plummet by -55% on NASDAQ after Hindenburg Research announced that it had taken a short position on the company for being an “exceptionally obvious scam”.
Hindenburg Research, a U.S.-based investment research firm focusing on short-selling, has accused Tingo Group, a Nigerian company, of being an “exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials”. In a statement on Tuesday, Hindenburg said that Tingo inflated its financials, lied about its $1.6 billion food processing plant, its expansion drive to Ghana and that it photoshopped its logo on another POS operator’s device.
The research group also accused Tingo’s founder and CEO, Dozy Mmuobuosi, of fabricating parts of his personal and professional history. Mmuobuosi had previously been in the news for trying to buy a newly promoted Premier League team, Sheffield United, and for sponsoring the Nigerian football league’s pre-season cup.
Mmuobuosi’s claim of founding the first mobile payment app in Nigeria was disputed by the actual creator, Deji Oguntonade, who called Mmuobuosi’s claims “totally false” and a “pure lie”. Mmuobosi’s claim that he received a PhD from a Malaysian university was also refuted by the university, which said that no one by his name was found in their verification system.
In 2019, Mmuobuosi claimed that he had launched “Tingo Airlines” and encouraged people on social media to fly with the airline. The airline is registered in England as Tingo Airlines Limited and declared a share capital of £1 billion in August 2019, with Mmobuosi as the sole shareholder. The Athletic reported in February that there is no evidence of Tingo Airline ever flying an airplane, and that its registered address was removed with a note saying that the address was “invalid or ineffective and was forged”. The airline is also facing an active proposal to be struck off the UK’s registrar of companies for failing to file basic paperwork.
In April, the co-chairman of Tingo wrote a public letter to Mmuobuosi and filed it with the SEC, saying that he could not approve the company’s annual report. In the letter, he said that he felt it “necessary to recuse myself by resigning” due to “many critical questions, comments, and recommendations” that went “unanswered and unheeded”.
Tingo has also previously claimed that its agricultural export business, Tingo DMCC, was on track to deliver over $1.34 billion in exports by the third quarter of 2023. A claim that exceeds the entire Nigerian agriculture export value for 2022. Hindenburg also said Tingo DMCC was not listed in the Nigerian customs database.
Tingo also claims to have launched its NWASSA market, a marketplace that allows farmers to sell products wholesale or retail without middlemen interference, in Ghana. Hindenburg found that the website for NWASSA did not work and “led nowhere”.
Tingo also claims its payment group, TingoPay, has Point of Sale (PoS) and other merchant products. However, the research group found this not to be true. No links to the TingoPay app are on the Google Play store or the Apple Store. Also, Tingo’s POS website images were lifted from an Indian payments company, PocketPOS.
Tingo also claimed that its mobile handset leasing, call, and data segments generated $128 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2023 and that these services are provided through an agreement with Airtel Nigeria. The type of license they claim did not exist until June 2023. Hindenburg said that checks with the Nigerian Communications Commission showed no record of Tingo being a mobile licensee, despite company claims of having 12 million mobile customers.
In 2021, Tingo claimed to have launched a partnership with a prominent Nigerian bank to expand its mobile services, which would birth its payment group, TingoPay. Two days after the partnership announcement, the bank debunked the claim. TechCabal sent several emails to Tingo asking for comments, but the company did not provide one at the time of this report.
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