Omowunmi (not real name) first heard of Pipminds International from a colleague who would always dazzle her with credit alerts. After much persuasion, she joined the platform.
Pipminds has existed since 2017 but only went public in 2019. Although the platform’s website is no longer functional, its LinkedIn page says it is a “world-class” fintech company that helps average individuals generate wealth.
Omowunmi was impressed by how Pipminds paid her colleague on the same day every month and the many promises they made to her.
“They assured me that nothing would happen to my money,” she told FIJ. “The memorandum of understanding stated that if anything happened to the market, they would refund my money while the company bore the loss. So I invested N500,000 in Pipminds. This was on November 2, 2020.”
At the time Omowunmi registered with Pipminds, they had two major plans: the Corporate Investment Programme (CIP) and the Hedge Investment Programme (HIP). CIP promised a 15% return on investment for six months with a minimum capital of N300,000, while HIP offered an investor a onetime annual 250% return on investment with a minimum capital of N1million.
Things fell apart for Omowunmi in April 2021, when Pipminds told her that the forex market had crashed. She had agreed with the company to top up her initial investment with her ROI for the first few months. For instance, rather than pay her N75,000 in December, Pipminds added it to her N500,000 investment capital and deferred the payment of a total N575,000.
Pipminds notified her they would reduce the ROI to 10% in order to pay her by May. She agreed. When, in May, it was time for her to get both her investment capital and her ROI, which had increased to N1.9 million, Pipmind could not be found.
“One of the lies they told me was that people had requested their investment capital in April and that worsened the issue, but I realised they had paid no one. They even published names of the people they were to pay on their website. I was number 700, but it was just public relations because they have paid no one to date.
“They have also sent emails to pacify us, but their actions do not correlate with the words in their emails. All they do is lie. I have seen no form of transparency. They couldn’t even follow what they wrote in the MoU.”
Omowunmi said people had informed her that victims of the scheme in Uyo had reported the company to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but they had done nothing.
FIJ placed several calls to the company’s phone number, but they were unsuccessful. The company’s representatives also did not reply to a text message sent to them.
FIJ found that Pipminds might have been designed to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians from inception. Its website’s domain was registered for only a year — February 24, 2020 to February 24, 2021. There are no phone numbers or emails for communication on the company’s website.
Emem Alban, the founder of Pipminds, is also difficult to trace. Besides his Facebook account, which has been abandoned since May 1, 2021, he has no social-media presence.
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