Racksterli, an investment platform owned by Michael Chidiebere Oti, also known as ‘Black Gold’, grew rapidly during its nine months of business thanks to advertising by David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, Nancy Isime, a Nollywood actor, and Williams Uchemba, among other celebrities.
“I wanna introduce you guys to one of the biggest investment platforms in Nigeria,” Davido once announced. “There are a lot of opportunities over there… It has been very very [sic] reliable for the past six months. We’ve had great recommendations.”
NO CAPITAL, NO ROI
At its crash in June, Racksterli had as many as 422,305 subscribers, according to figures captured in a screenshot taken in January. Many of these investors, poor and wealthy, have neither received their capital nor promised returns.
“It’s difficult to get accurate evidence of the number of subscribers or exact amount owed, because the platform suddenly crashed,” Oluwatobi Olamilekan, a non-investor who voluntarily created a WhatsApp group to solicit support for numerous victims, said to FIJ.
“However, many of the investors are convinced the company accrued more than one billion naira. You need to believe it when I say Racksterli was the biggest investment scam you could ever imagine around here.”
LIKE MAVRODI, LIKE OTI
MMM, one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in modern times, was launched by Sergei Mavrodi in Nigeria in November 2015, many years after it was outlawed in Russia.
MMM’s history dates back to the 1990s. It was reported that its subscribers in Russia lost an estimated $100 million. The Russian government banned the regime and Mavrodi served four years in prison. Instead of backing away, Mavrodi brought together as many as 3 million participants in Nigeria to support the project. In the end, subscribers lost about N18 billion.
The Russian ex-convict disguised his scam as a “mutual aid fund where ordinary people help each other” and get 30 percent on their investment in 30 days. Some made early gains, but others, including students, suffered losses.
Similarly, Oti’s Racksterli pledged 46 to 58 percent ROI, depending on the investment package, in one month. Packages include Standard, Diamond, Ruby, Platinum, Emerald, to name a few. The capital invested was also in the range of N14,000 to N20 million..
A SCAMMER’S STRATEGY
“When Racksterli began, investors got their money,” Sadiq Gazali, a victim, said. “This was how we were made to believe the platform was genuine.”
When asked why he invested, he replied, “I am the firstborn in my family. The burden of responsibility is heavy on me, so I decided to invest this money before I’d have urgent bills to deal with.”
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Gazali’s capital was N784,000 before the collapse of the Racksterli in June.
FIJ learned the platform crashed in March but bounced back with a new website. Oti asked his clients to invest the same amount they had lost in order to get a refund for what they were owed. For example, an old investor with a N112,000 package was expected to invest another N112,000 to get up to N50 percent ROI on a N224,000 capital.
Many fell for it, believing they would be able to recoup their initial capital. Between May and June 2021, Wisdom Bassey, another victim, paid up to N532,000 to purchase coupon codes for various investment packages.
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He hasn’t got a refund, despite Oti’s promises to erase unpaid payments from bottom to top.
“I have many other people who invested millions of naira,” Bassey noted. “This guy defrauded all of us, yet he was always saying on Instagram Live that he would pay all of us.”
FLAMBOYANT ON INSTAGRAM, EVASIVE IN REAL LIFE
Dozens of victims told FIJ that Oti routinely reassured his customers on Instagram until he could not keep his promises in September.
“He erased all live Instagram posts and disabled comments,” one of the victims said. “Oti lived a tremendously flamboyant life. He displayed wealth made out of people’s sweat and was never shy about it. It remains a mystery to me that no one has apprehended him.”
In June 2021, Oluwadolarz whose real name is Ogunleye Babatunde was invited for interrogation by the Area J Police Command in Ajah for having endorsed and announced Racksterli. But Oti was never arrested because of allegations of fraud.
Oti did not answer FIJ’s calls to his telephone line. He also did not reply messages sent to his email and phone numbers.
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