Thousands of people in Cross River State have lost about N27billion to fraudulent activities of a network racket, even as five investors have lost their lives following inability to cope with their losses. The depositors with Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative Society (MMCS) operating from Calabar, Cross River State, started counting their losses, after it was discovered that the president of the Cooperative Society had made away with billions of naira belonging to investors.
The cooperative society, it was gathered, is registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and leverages on international trading investment platforms to generate 50-80 per cent ROI (Return on Investment), which is higher than what banks and other investment companies offer.
As part of its modus operandi, the cooperative receives capital from its members and spreads it across the different trading platforms, and every 40 days, they pay out 50 per cent ROI generated from the different platforms.
With very juicy promise of rewards, Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative deceived its members into parting with their life’s savings.
Under the MMCS’ investment plan, members who deposited N100, 000 are to earn N150, 000 in 40 days; N200, 000 to earn N300, 000 in 40 days; N600, 000 to earn N900, 000 in 40 days; N1million to earn N1.5 million in 40 days; N2 million to earn N3 million in 40 days. Amounts higher can be invested but will be in multiples of 1 million.
Though the cooperative started as a Swiss Golden marketing group on WhatsApp, within a few months, the group expanded to 13,000 members in 36 different WhatsApp groups and a Telegram group. In a bid to make the business more corporate, the leaders of the cooperative created a website, registered the business, and set up a well-furnished office in Calabar, Cross River State.They went ahead and advised investors to register with N10, 000 to become members of the cooperative society, and more than 13,000 thousand people registered. According to one of the investors, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Friday on condition of anonymity, trouble started in the cooperative society, when the president began extorting money from the cooperative members, and payments were delayed for days.
The president, Mr Michael Eke, lied to investors that the delay in payment was because of a burial ceremony held for some board members’ parents. He claimed that the burial took their members of staff away from their office, hence the delay in payment.
Few days after the burial ceremony, Mr Eke announced that the cooperative double paid some investors; hence they would not pay more investors till the issues were sorted out.
Afterwards, Mr Michael Eke announced that every member of the cooperative should pay N20, 000 for a comedy show being organised by MC Mbakara.
This was not welcomed by the members of the cooperative who felt that they were being exploited, this prompted the president of the cooperative to announce that he had found an investment opportunity that would give the cooperative members N1million return on investment monthly. He however told the members that if they wanted to benefit from the new investment platform, they needed to pay N120, 000.
He explained that the N100, 000 would be for the investment while N20, 000 would be for the planned comedy show titled, “Calabar Invasion” which was scheduled to hold in Calabar on the 23rd of September. To get more people to invest in IMarkets Live (IML), which is the new investment platform promoted by the group, the cooperative organised marketing events in major cities in Nigeria including Calabar, Abuja, Lagos and Uyo.
The seminar in Lagos was held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja on the 29th of July, in Abuja, it was held on the 27th of July at Rockview Royal Hotel, Wuse, while the event for Calabar was held at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar.
After lying to investors during the seminars, many people reluctantly complied and paid for the show and the new investment.
Shortly after this extortion, the president announced that he would reduce return on Investment (ROI) from 80 per cent to 50 percent for the cooperative to save up money to float an Airline in Nigeria.
Mr Eke went further to advise the members that if they wanted to get 80 per cent ROI they should invest before 31st of July, because from August 1, 2018, the cooperative would reduce its return on investment to 50 per cent. This announcement prompted a massive rush among the investors to mop up cash for investment, people borrowed from banks, invested all their money into the system.Few days later, he made another announcement encouraging people to invest more money into the system.He also made juicier offers to his investors. On the 8th of August precisely, the president of the cooperative, announced that the group could no longer indemnify members.
After the announcement on WhatsApp, Mr Michael Eke and MC Mbakara, switched off their phones and ran away from Calabar. So far, more than five people have died as a result of the loss of their lives’ savings to the cooperative. While many people are hospitalised. In all these, the board members are yet to tell the cooperative members what happened to their money. Police in Cross River State are looking for the two young men who are on the run.
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