Once bitten is twice shy, but not so for today’s subject of Navigating Nigeria. In two separate instances, she lost money to investments that promised quick returns. As she shares her experience about losing her hard-earned money, she’s also learned a few lessons from it all, the most important of which is the need to be financially literate.
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Walk us through your experience
My experience goes back to 2020. I’ve never been one to fall for Ponzi schemes, so when MMM came out and all those other platforms promising to double your money, I never engaged.
The first investment I lost money to happened via one of my mum’s ex-students who contacted me. He told me his friend ran a business related to forex trading. He told me I’d get my return on investment (ROI), which was 25%, after 25 working days. It didn’t sound too bad, so I said OK.
I put some money into it without telling anyone. After 25 days, I got my investment with interest. I told a friend about it, and he told me he wasn’t convinced and warned me to be careful. I then informed my partner at the time, and he was very upset with me. That didn’t deter me anyway, and I continued putting in money and collecting interest.
You wouldn’t believe this, but this guy kept sending me a memorandum of understanding (MoU), making the whole thing appear legally binding. That made it look legit in my eyes. That was enough to convince my partner, who later came on board. His was even worse because he wasn’t collecting his ROI. He had this weird plan of gathering everything till it became bulky enough and then cashing out large.
What hurt me, however, was that I’d taken a massive chunk of money I’d been saving for my son for some time and put it into the forex investment. Looking back, these guys changed their names at some point. They also claimed they were into not just forex but real estate and other stuff.
Everything appeared legit, and I told some friends to invest. Gawd. I convinced people to pool their money into this thing. I’m so glad that none of them got mad at me when everything disappeared. They knew that I didn’t intentionally set them up to lose money.
How did the crash happen?
December 2020 was the last time I cashed out. I wanted to travel to Jos and needed funds to get around, so I took some money out.
About a week after, my friends who had also invested and wanted to cash out started getting messages that there would be some delay and were panicking. I told them that couldn’t be as I’d cashed out money only a week before.
One of my friends I’d introduced to the investment kept calling, and I was initially reassuring her that she’d get her money as it was a minor glitch. I contacted my mum’s ex-student, who reassured me that things would be resolved. I’d later find out that he wasn’t even the owner of the business but a third-party trader. The real owner was one popular guy, and I learned they dragged him on Instagram after the whole thing crashed.
I still had over ₦500k in there, and I began to wish I’d taken every dime out. When January came, I had hopes that they’d resolve the issue. Then February followed. Then March. And then it dawned on me that my money was gone. It became very real to me there and then that my money wasn’t coming back.
With this experience, you’d think I’d be wiser and not make such investments again, right? Wrong.
This time around, it was my best friend that wooed me into this agritech scheme, Titan Farms. She told me her mum, her sister, and even herself had invested so much money and reaped good returns. This one guaranteed returns after three months; it sounded reasonable. I don’t know what makes me put so much money into these things, but I did.
I withdrew my money from Piggyvest and funded the app. The reason I did this one was because I’d previously invested in Thrive Agric, which had an 18-month maturity period with 19% ROI. I didn’t like it because my money waited so long with little interest.
Anyway, I invested in them. Three months passed, and then I started receiving apologies that payment was coming late.
They had a website. I tried to log in, but a prompt appeared saying that the website didn’t exist. They basically shut down, and I didn’t get my money back. Despite following up with them and sending multiple emails, nothing came out of it. They claimed to have paid investors, but it was all a lie—fraudulent people.
I’m sorry this had to happen to you twice. What is your takeaway from it all?
I’ve been twice bitten. If anybody comes to talk to me about investment, I’ll beat them up. However, I’ll admit that I wasn’t educated about how to invest money. Recently, I attended a finance seminar, and the person who spoke to us hammered on the point that before investing in anything, make sure you’re literate about finance.
When investing, I didn’t have complete information and wasn’t aware of the risk attached to the things I was putting my money in. So my biggest takeaway was being financially sound about investing. Even with legitimate businesses, there are risks involved. One has to know how much is too much so it doesn’t backfire horribly. I’ve not dabbled in any investments since then. For now, I’m focused on gaining more financial literacy. Maybe I can have another go when that is in place.