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03.10.2022 Featured How Fundraising for US Scholarship Landed Man in Online Loan Sharks’ Net

Published 3rd Oct, 2022

By Segun Ige

Akin Alabi* came to his family of seven on a very early Sunday morning in December 2021.

The fact that he had come at such a time as 6 am on Sunday – and not on any other day – was quite suspicious and shocking to his six-boys-one-girl nuclear family.

In the crammed-stuffed, rent-controlled, multi-tenanted single room, Akin managed a space on the floor, making sure everyone was listening.

“You are the only family I have,” he started. “I’m sorry for disturbing you and taking your time but I would appreciate if you all give me listening ears.”

He had looked lean over the couple of months, grumpy, his father noted, with a mixture of grief, guilt, and not giving to his family, being the eldest, all worn over his beardless face.

“You are the only one left for me. Now I know the value of family.

“I want to tell you that this scholarship offer has really gotten me into doing things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. I wouldn’t have accepted the offer in the first place if I knew it was going to be like this,” Akin lamented.

“From the day one I received the scholarship offer,” he continued, “it’s been money here and there. From Mummy’s younger brother’s wife to my colleagues at work and my few friends, I’ve gone to the extent of even borrowing money, grossly indebted.

“I’m in fact under an arrest threat now because I’ve not been able to refund the money. I would appreciate it if you guys could support me as little as possible to clear this hanging debt on my neck.”

As if backing up his impassioned plea, 31-year-old Akin showed Tayo*, the fifth child, a visa scholarship document, which was then overtaken by Bimpe*, the one and only female second child of the family.

He however showed Tayo in particular a few online platforms he had borrowed money from.

FROM SCHOLARSHIP TO INDEBTEDNESS

It all started in September 2021, when Akin was informed of a scholarship opportunity by his then-lecturer at the University of Lagos.

The lecturer, now the Head of Department, told Akin to make photocopies of his necessary documents. The HOD said the scholarship at a New York City school was for five best graduating students and that Akin, 2015 best graduating student, was one of them.

“I’m going to give you what will give you food forever,” the HOD told Akin literally in the Yoruba language on phone.

“Ayo*, Tayo, Bimpe, Ola*, you have all heard it,” Daddy Akin* said.

“You’ve heard what your eldest brother said. If it’s good for him today, it’s good for us all.

“Every good thing has its challenges. I’ve seen someone go through this same thing your brother is going through, and at the end of it all, it was all joy. Let’s give anything we can afford.”

Bimpe complained she had lent Akin N40,000 and that other siblings should do something; Tayo brought out his phone and transferred N20,000; Ayo promised something during the week (later gave N10,000); Ola headed for Point of Sale (PoS) to withdraw N11,000.

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

From January 2022 till now, Mummy and Daddy Akin have been receiving series of threatening calls of arrest if their son Akin refuses to meet up with the payment deadline.

Frequently as she receives the calls, Mummy Akin would inform Akin, but would tell her not to mind. She bought the idea that it could have been one of the 419’s, until the calls pressuringly persisted – and she informed her husband.

Meanwhile, Akin had, as of April, been summoned and sacked by his boss, arising from the texts he received labelling Akin “internet fraudster”. Coupled with that are his friends: some of them urging him to pay back the money, others deserting him.

Akin stated that he had massively borrowed from various online platforms and the people are the ones calling for their money.

“But when last I asked him, he said he was only owing about N300,000. Now he’s talking about N500,000. Maybe it’s even more than that,” his dad explained.

THE ‘WANTED’ MESSAGE

On Saturday, September 17, Ayo received a WhatsApp message from one ‘****4097’ number. The sender used a default timer so that all messages disappear within 24 hours.

The message, from Deloan Company, clearly spells out Akin Alabi’s address, date of birth, citizen, and phone number.

Under the ‘NB’ section, the message reads in part: “Call the person in this report to remove/detach your details from the online registration he did with Deloan Company Limited.”

The threat or terror message terrified Ayo not only because if he doesn’t call his brother he “would be arrested until the case is settled”, but because this same brother had unassumingly strategically ripped him off his hard-earned N50,000.

Akin had told Ayo his friend wanted to sell his laptop urgently. At the time, March 2021, Ayo was managing one ‘television’ Samsung system.

It was on a Sunday evening but Ayo promised the transfer of N50,000 would be made following Monday morning.

It was a ‘television’ system itself but quite expansive in terms of RAM and GB.

“All you need do is buy battery. You can go and try it out,” said Akin.

The system only lasted with Ayo for one day as he received a call from Tayo (but Akin speaking) that his uncle’s friend wanted the laptop back.

“They are around now. They said they would arrest me if I don’t provide the laptop. His uncle said he had not told him to sell the laptop and that even if he wanted to sell it, not for N50,000,” Akin said.

In his state of busyness, Ayo told him to take the laptop, only to regret a few minutes later to have requested the money.

The threat message he now received puts him a bit in a disturbing state of terror and trauma.

“You can’t believe Akin just duped me. It really pains me right now. I wish I was around when all this was happening. I was busy at work, and that impaired my mental state of decisiveness,” Ayo explained to Tayo.

Akin’s mum, who spoke with the caller on phone on September 21, verifies what amount in particular Akin still owes them. She learnt that Akin still owes Deloan Company a sum of N17,000.

‘ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL’

Ayo later learnt that Akin is now a wanted public figure “for allegedly running away with Deloan Company’s money”.

Reluctantly, he forwarded the messages to his elder brother Akin on September 18.

While apologising, Akin said it’s one of the few online loan companies remaining to be sorted out.

“They have access to contacts on my phone,” he chatted. “They do these messes so you get desperate to pay. Or if even if you won’t pay they have gotten even with you ‘tarnishing’ your image.”

At 7:20 pm Akin turned over to talk to Ayo more physically about the issue.

“Were it not that I was robbing Peter to pay Paul, I would have cleared all the debt. I was cyclically owing one to pay another. I realised it wasn’t helping, so I decided to focus on one at a time,” Akin explained.

“I had sent a note to the customer care line explaining the situation of things and when I would able to pay the money in full, only to receive one call desperately demanding that I pay the money immediately otherwise I would be arrested or killed.

“I told him I could only pay the money September 29 but he would not come to terms with any form of plea and appeal.”

Nearly a week after his self-set deadline, Akin has still not paid. Worse still, he has no immediate hope of clearing the mounting debts.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

Published 3rd Oct, 2022

By Segun Ige

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