Scam

Nigerians Lose Over N22bn to Imagine Lenders, as Owners Skip Town

Not less than N22 billion in investments seem to have gone down the drain as owners of Imagine Global Solutions, promoters of Imagine Lenders Microfinance have allegedly skipped town with investors’ funds as affected Nigerians form support groups.

Several investors in the finance scheme giving their accounts on social media, alleged that owners of the firm which started operations in 2016, Bamise and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi, have reportedly gone into hiding after squandering investors’ money said to be as much as N22 billion.

Affected individuals and companies who invested money in the micro-lending firm have since formed WhatsApp groups to enable them trace the whereabouts of the managing director of the firm, Bamise and his wife, Elizabeth, who serves as the chairman of the board of directors.

Bamise Ajetunmobi, a former staff of one of Nigeria’s banks, had allegedly lured some of his former colleagues in the banking industry to join his venture and offered them gargantuan salaries in the investment company which claims to lend to small businesses at 22 per cent and pays a monthly return of 10 per cent to investors.

Several victims on social media detailed how they lost between N20 million to as much as N500 million to the micro lending firm.

On its website, the firm said it projects “to become the biggest money lender in Africa, Eastern Europe and South America in the next ten years. Over the past 4 years Imagine Global has recorded considerable growth in customer base from 30 in 2016 to 90,000 customers as at October 2020.

“The company currently has 400 staff. The Loan repayment rate is 98 per cent for the past two years. The company has customers across over 350 market locations in Lagos, Benin Republic, Ibadan, Ogun State and Abuja” its website reads.

Offering services such as mortgage, working capital finance, healthcare and education loans, and the firm on its website said it “understands the difficulties that most of the businesses face in availing small business loans. Our professionals take a proactive approach to help small and medium-sized business owners fuel their entrepreneurial aspirations.”

Some of the affected investors said they came in contact with the firm through referrals from friends and church members who had also invested in the firm. Some of the investors said they have been trying to reach the couple, who have allegedly fled the country to the United Kingdom, to no avail.

Meanwhile, reacting to the rumor that it invested its customers’ fund in the scheme which has gone belly-up, PiggyVest, a fintech savings and investment platform, said it never invested in Imagine Global.

The company in a statement sent to its customers yesterday, assured that customers’ funds would never be compromised, urging them to disregard the rumor.

“Please ignore any news about PiggyVest losing customer funds to IMG. No PiggyVest customer funds are in IMG. Customer funds are only invested in asset-backed instruments like commercial papers, bonds, fixed income notes, etc. With over N250 billion returned successfully to customers, Piggyvest has never and will never compromise the funds of any customer in any way. All Piggyvest customer funds remain safe and secure as always,” the statement said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have over time sent out several warnings to potential capital market investors cautioning against putting their funds in fraudulent investment schemes.

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