The era of investment platforms defrauding people of their hard-earned money seems to be a never-ending debacle. After weeks of poring through tons of data, documents and deploying Open Source Intelligence tools, DAMILOLA OLUFEMI uncovers how a forex company allegedly faked an international reputation to defraud thousands of Nigerians and others globally
The award that was never won
Earlier this year, several newspapers (not PUNCH), carried reports in which IPC was referred to as an award-winning broker.
The articles linked the award to the 2022 Forex Expo Show Africa Awards, an annual recognition meant for notable forex trading companies.
When Daniel Nsiegbe, one of the conveners of the award was contacted, he admitted that IPC was nominated for the award, but said the company was not a recipient as widely publicised.
He said IPC had never attended any of their events and alleged that the company was faceless.
“These people (IPC) were not open. They were sending us messages and we were investigating them to know the type of company that they are. Before we knew it, they posted our information online, which we immediately disclaimed,” he said.
Nsiegbe revealed that part of the award policies required nominees to provide certain vital information, but noted that IPC declined.
He said despite pressure mounted on the IPC management during virtual communications, they could neither produce the name of the director, nor any means of identification.
“We told them that if they want to attend the event, we want to know who the director is. We also wanted to know where the company was registered,” he added.
Nsiegbe said various forms of registration were tendered including a Canadian registration but that organisers of the award insisted on having a director attend the award ceremony.
He said, “They were not willing to give us the information we wanted. We don’t give awards to faceless companies. You must be at the event to receive the award. Before then, we must have your identity. We don’t sell awards. We give it based on merit. They didn’t attend the event.”
Allegedly propagated by social media influencers
Some social media influencers in Nigeria were allegedly linked to the investment platform by investors.
Among them is a renowned On-Air-Personality, Ifedayo Olarinde, popularly known as Daddy Freeze.
In one of the videos posted on his Facebook page in January, Daddy Freeze was seen marketing an investment scheme alongside Bukky Osinowo, a notable IPC promoter, who also happened to be an investment coach and forex trader with over 12,000 followers on Instagram.
Some victims claimed that after coming across the video, they contacted Daddy Freeze and he gave them codes, which linked them to Osinowo.
Some of them alleged that Osinowo opened several groups on Telegram and WhatsApp for referrals.
A neurologist, Justin Nwanafor, who claimed to have invested over $10,000 into IPC, alleged that he contacted Daddy Freeze after viewing the investment video.
He alleged being added to a group online managed by Osinowo after registering with IPC.
“Before you get to Oshinowo, you have to be given a code by Daddy Freeze. I was in IPC. I invested over $10,000 in forex trading. I registered in January this year before realising that it was a scam,” he claimed.
Operated by country representatives
It was learnt that IPC, whose management was alleged to be unknown and untraceable, operated in various countries using country representatives.
PUNCH Investigations uncovered Nigeria’s representative to be Chinwe Okuwobi.
The light in complexion lady, who claimed to be the first Nigerian to register for the scheme, based on findings, toured the country to give speeches and seminars on IPC.
In one of the fliers obtained by our correspondent, she was among the speakers invited to lecture and create awareness about the investment scheme in Warri, Delta State.
PUNCH Investigations obtained a video in which Okuwobi could be seen applauding IPC management.
In the clip, she boasted about contributing to the exponential growth of the platform globally.
She said, “I remember that I started with IP Capital when they were less than 50,000 members. Right now, we can boast of over 100,000 members globally.
“I am happy to be a part of this wonderful organisation and I want to say IP Capital came into Nigeria five months ago and for these five months that IP Capital has been in Nigeria, it has been awesome. I am one of the beneficiaries of IP Capital benefits.”
IPC is not a scam – Okuwobi
When Okuwobi was contacted through her mobile phone, she confirmed her link to IPC but refuted claims that the investment scheme was a scam.
When told that investors alleged that they could not access their funds and profits, Okuwobi got infuriated and went into a tirade.
“I was the first person to register. Anybody that brought this information to you is putting your company into a problem. This case is before the Inspector General of Police and INTERPOL.
“It’s not suspended. What they did was switch to IP Cloud, which they (IPC) asked us to put in more money before they could start paying.
“Don’t go ahead and publish what will put you in trouble. I will sue that company. I have every piece of evidence. The evidence is that it is paying for its company’s plan. I will Google you out. I will trace you to your doorstep,” she threatened.
When asked about the dissolution of the company, Okuwobi said, “The dissolution followed the instruction of Canadian and American governments that the company should begin tax payment.”
Going by her claims that the IG and INTERPOL are aware of the case, our correspondent requested for a copy of either a letter or petition written as evidence to back up her claims, but she declined.
Okuwobi’s lawyer speaks
After days of back and forth with Okuwobi, her lawyer, Jude Irabor, contacted our correspondent and said his client would not respond to any requests from PUNCH Investigations.
After he was told that his client was just being reminded to send across the petition she had voluntarily agreed to, he said, “It is voluntary when she chooses to do so. Until you explained to me, I was thinking you are compelling her.
“If she has not been able to give you any story on her involvement as you said, you leave it like that because if you try to push further, it will look like you are compelling her to do what she does not want to do.”
Irabor noted that some of those aggrieved are accusing his client with the intention to get her arrested.
“These people have been on her for quite a while and made several efforts to see that they get her arrested. They have even threatened to,” he said.
A visit to PUNCH by Okuwobi’s friend
A day after speaking with the lawyer, an acclaimed IPC investor, Samuel Okanlawon, paid an unscheduled visit to The PUNCH office in defence of Okuwobi.
The visibly angry man claimed to have written the petition to the INTERPOL and refused to divulge its content, which he referred to as a ‘private matter.’
Even though Okanlawon, who claimed to be a pastor, said he was not sent by Okuwobi, he maintained, “If what anybody is waiting for is a copy of the petition, they will not get it because it’s a private document of the woman. The matter is not for public debate.
“I helped her to write it with my handwriting. I know what is there. I was asking her what she wanted to write.”
I only referred my friends and family — Bukky Osinowo
When contacted, Osinowo, the investment coach linked to IPC, claimed to have referred only her friends and family to IPC.
The lady explained that she was introduced to the scheme in September 2021, but did not register until January 2022.
Osinowo confirmed co-producing a video on the scheme with Daddy Freeze, but said those referred were not her people.
“All the people I personally recruited, I know them. They are my friends and family,” she insisted.
She disclosed that Daddy Freeze registered through her, adding, “As a journalist that he is, he must have felt comfortable with it after doing his research. Daddy Freeze is my friend. We’ve done business together. He also trades forex.”
She also debunked claims that new members used her code for registration.
Osinowo, who claimed to have been in the financial market for six years, said she lost over $100,000 to IPC.
She recounted, “Everything was running well until March 2021. The genesis of the company’s downfall started via a memo sent to investors that withdrawals made did not drop as usual on every Saturday.”
IPC Canadian address fake — Osinowo
Corroborating findings by Punch Investigations about IPC’s status in Canada, Osinowo revealed that the Toronto address paraded by IPC is fake.
“My husband even got his nephew that lives in Toronto to go to that address. They got there and didn’t find any presence of IPC there,” she added.
However, when asked if she was aware that IPC was being alleged to be a scam by investors, Osinowo responded, “I don’t know. I can’t honestly tell you it is a scam because of the continuous communication it has with people till today.”
Osinowo disclosed that she reluctantly switched to IP Cloud recently with the prompting of a friend and that she registered with her IPC details.
She admitted investing additional money into IP Cloud, noting that she had been withdrawing everyday for five days.
Osinowo said, “I can’t outrightly call them a scam”, but warned that whoever joins IP Cloud does so at their own risk.
Asked what steps she had taken to help those she referred to retrieve their investment, Osinowo defended that she was an investor as well and completely helpless and in the same situation as them.
She, however, corroborated Okuwobi’s claim that the case had been reported to the INTERPOL.
When asked for details of the petition, Osinowo referred our correspondent to Okuwobi.
I also lost money in IPC –
Reacting to his alleged involvement in IPC, Daddy Freeze disclosed that he lost money to the platform despite carrying out due diligence.
He said, “I am also a victim. I also lost a lot of money in IPC. It was over $10,000. At that time, it was really hard to investigate a company that is in Canada. Some people said they knew them.
“So, we did a bit of due diligence to the best that we could and people said they had their office in Canada.”
Daddy Freeze noted that he always attached a disclaimer to his videos; warning people about the dangers of investing in any platform.
The OAP explained that he was introduced to the platform by Osinowo, whom he got to know as an advertiser in his former place of work.
He said, “We don’t have a history. We are not friends. She’s a customer that uses my platform. We’ve worked over a period but I can’t particularly vouch for anybody at this stage. My platform is open to everybody to advertise.
“I am an influencer and was introduced to a lady called Bukky. I gave her an interview on my platform, which I normally do. A few people registered. But let me warn you, there’s nobody that registered on my platform that was not warned of the consequences of the volatility of all these investments.
“As far as I am concerned, as of the last time that I checked, they are still on and running on IP Cloud now. I am not on the IP Cloud platform because I lost my money. I can see my money from IPC on IP Cloud, but I can’t withdraw. But if it is to get it now, they will tell you to come and invest.”
Minutes after the interview, Daddy Freeze called back and denied ever mentioning IPC in his conversation with our correspondent.
He said, “I never, ever mentioned IPC. I only mentioned a forex trading robot. I am calling you to clarify.
“I know journalists like to play with words to make their stories sweet. Bukky never specifically advertised IPC. I gave them the IPC link with a disclaimer. I spoke to my lawyer and he said ‘but you never advertise IPC’ and I said that is true.”
When asked to mention the trading robot he was referring to, he said, “I don’t want to discuss the robot I have invested in.”
Police, INTERPOL react
When contacted, the Commissioner for INTERPOL in Nigeria, Garba Umar, said he was not aware of the case.
“I don’t know about that. If you need anything, you know my office. Not on the phone,” he said.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, also claimed not to have any information on the case.