Things fell apart for Uduak Attah-Ochinke in May 2021 when she realized she has been fleeced to the tune of N1 million by an Instagram vendor who guaranteed a huge sum of money as interests for her investors.
It was February 2021, and in the spirit of keeping to the New Year’s resolution of increasing her finances, Uduak decided to invest with a “trusted” Instagram hair influencer, Tessy Akpu Oluchi, who used to speak of her investment plans with an unmistakable air of authority.
A SMOOTH OPERATOR
Oluchi had impressed Uduak and many others with her affiliations to different online celebrities such as Mizwanneka (whom Uduak didn’t know was herself a hair fraudster) and with a remarkably slick website where things worked with ease, Uduak concluded that the investment deals advertised by Oluchi were too legitimate to be ignored.
Oluchi, through her companies’ pages TCM Brand (clothing line page) and Hair By TCM, had informed the public that investing with her meant people would either buy wigs in bulk at a discounted price or invest in wigs that other people sell and share a portion of the profit with the investor.
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A CAREFULLY-ORCHESTRATED TRAP
“I have patronised her business by outright purchase of items on her website so it looked a legit investment to deal. So I made a choice of investment 1M in the gold passive distributor slot,” she said.
Until Uduak invested her money, she did not know that all she considered as clues indicating the investment deals were legitimate was a carefully orchestrated trap to fleece unsuspecting people like her. Three months after she had invested with Oluchi, she realized she had made the wrong choice.
As part of the agreement, Uduak was supposed to receive N400,000 in May and July but within the trimester, Oluchi greeted her with different excuses.
“The second installment was due in July, I still got nothing. At this point I asked her to refund my capital investment of N1million, that I was willing to take it as a business investment gone bad. I am yet to receive a dime from TCM. All my calls, messages, chats are unanswered,” Uduak said.
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TWENTY-TWO VICTIMS, N3MILLION
Uduak was however not the only victim of Oluchi’s fraudelnt activities. In fact, FIJ investigations revealed that Oluchi had two different packages she used to defraud many people. In Uduak’s case, it was an investment deal but in the cases of 22 others whom she defrauded to the tune of about N3 million, it was through her Hair by TCM page on Instagram that specialized in selling hairs.
Hair by TCM was involved in what Oluchi described as “batch sales”. Batch sales means that people who wanted to buy wigs in large amounts would pay and get it in three months.
The loss of Sandra Danson, an entrepreneur in Benin, has affected her business. Danson invested N187,000 in Oluchi’s TCM batch sales in January with the hope of getting 10 premium wigs in March.
Her expectation was cut short in March when Oluchi told her she would not get what she paid, as the toll of Coronavirus on India was preventing the manufacturers of the wigs from working in their factories.
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“At first I believed her but when the stories continued for a long time and she became inconsistent with what she said as excuses, I began to doubt her,” Danson said.
In June 2021, Oluchi assured Danson that she was taking steps to curb the situation and would resolve the issue in a while only if Danson would add N50,000 to what she had already paid.
“I was shocked when she told me I would pay another N50,000. Oluchi said the N50,000 was necessary because the prices of wig production had increased in India and the manufacturers needed money to continue to produce.
“At that point, I became mad because two weeks before then, she lied to us that she paid an additional N16 million to the manufacturers only for her to urge me to pay when I am yet to get my goods,” Danson said.
Danson said she confirmed what her intuition told her about Oluchi when, even though she was defaulting, she was still using sponsored ads on Instagram to cajole new folks while she blocked her comments section on Instagram to stop people from complaining about the wigs they had preordered.
Lilian Agu, a civil servant residing in Lagos, who was not spared in Oluchi’s operation, she said when she communicated with Oluchi to know when she would get her wigs, she was amazed by the inconsistencies in her statement.
“In April, she said the wig manufacturers in India had difficulties getting some materials to start production but in May; she blamed this same issue on some manufacturers in China. This was how she scammed me of N126,907 in the process,” she said.
COMFORTING VICTIMS WITH LIES
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In a similar vein, Christiana Ibeh lost N72,000 in the process of purchasing hairs from Oluchi.
“Seeing Finefunky Collections praise Oluchi’s Hair by TCM on Instagram, I had to give it a trial,” she said “but since January 10 till now, Oluchi has been telling me stories.”
“I have proof of my payment and I did everything as instructed only for Oluchi to fake apologies on several occasions that she would pay. After a while, she stopped replying.”
As the victims of Oluchi’s scam became impatient, many of them would go to her Instragram comment sections to ask her why they were yet to get what they ordered but as usual, Oluchi would comfort them with lies. When she figured she was losing the game of playing on her victims’ intelligence as they would no longer subscribe to lies, she started deleting the comments of aggrieved customers on comment sections on Instagram
Folashade Adeniyi, a hairstylist in Ogun State, who lost N126,907.51 in the process of preordering wigs through Oluchi, told FIJ that when she would not get a response from Oluchi whenever she messaged her, she opted to use the comment section.
“But she’s now deleting comments on her page. Anything you say about what you’ve ordered for, she would delete it,” Adeniyi said.
And if they annoy her too much, Oluchi blocks the accounts of her customers who ask about their preorders either on her personal page or on any of the professional pages she uses in scamming people.
Bridget Agbornma who lost N100,000 to Oluchi sent a request to one of Hair by TCM pages as the account is on private mode but was blocked only when Oluchi figured she was one of her victims who would not relent in her efforts to get her money.
THREATENING VICTIMS TO PAY MORE
Using a Google form where she asked her victims to submit their Instagram handles, Oluchi informed her victims on July 29, 2021, that if they were to get the wigs they ordered, they would need to pay certain amounts, depending on the quantity they earlier paid for.
The message reads: “For 1 to 10 wigs, please pay N5,000 per wigs. For 10 to 20 wigs, please pay N4,000. For 20 wigs and above, please pay N3,000 per wig.”
But what came as a surprise to most of Oluchi’s victims was how she told them that if they failed to add more money to what they paid earlier, their goods would be gone despite her initial promise that they would receive their goods on or before July 30, 2021.
Chizoba Ekwem, who lost N271,000 in the process of ordering wigs, said she was shocked when Oluchi told her to pay an additional N3,000 to N5,000 per wig, depending on what she had ordered for.
“I told her that I needed my money back as I was no longer interested,” she said, “but Oluchi said that if I could not add more money to what I paid already, I should just forget everything.”
This was what broke her heart, as she had waited patiently since March 2021 only for Oluchi to blatantly tell her she would lose her money if she didn’t add more to it.
Tosin Egungbohun had a slightly different experience with Oluchi. When she was tired of Oluchi’s inconsistent lies, she asked for a refund in April; she was assured she would get her money. But the message as contained in the Google form from Oluchi came as a shocker; she would lose the N14,000 she had already paid if she failed to add an additional N5,000.
As of August 10, 2021, at about 6: 15 pm, Oluchi sent a mail to her victims, telling them she had extended the deadline from July 30, 2021 to August 11, 2021.
FIJ learnt that Oluchi has abandoned her office situated at Surulere for the past two months. Also, when FIJ reached out to her via phone calls, her personal assistant who spoke on her behalf said she was unavailable.
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