Inside Poyoyo investment scam that has cost Akure and Lagos residents their millions
NEWS DIGEST – Expecting to receive a 20% monthly return on investment, a young man in his twenties committed 7 million naira to a forex and real estate investment company, and is now haunted with thoughts of losing his money to Kunle Adesua and his Poyoyo Investment Scam.
Jamiu Ishola’s revelation about Poyoyo Investment Limited comes a month after the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned that Poyoyo had no significant mode of operation and was paying investors with other investors money, like every other ponzi scheme.
Jamiu was made to think Poyoyo was ‘solving the problem of poverty in Nigeria’ when he was encouraged to commit funds to the company by Oyejobi Faith, Kunle’s girlfriend.
“We pay online directly to the company’s account,” he said.
Like Jamiu, Tolulope Matthew has had no success reaching the company after he was defrauded of 1.3 million naira. All offices of Poyoyo Investment Limited in Abuja, Akure, Ibadan and Lagos have been closed and its chief operator, Kunle, is on the run.
Who is Kunle Adesua?
The News Digest spoke to persons who claim to have known Kunle Adesua back in his days at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba. In those days, before he dropped out of the university due to low grades, Kunle Adesua was a different person.
“He was very nice, friendly and approachable,” said Ayoola Mary, who shared a lodge with Kunle in Akungba. “There were times when igbeyin [Kunle] would hold everyone in the hostel and we’d turn straight to his own foodstuffs cause he hardly cooks, and we all lived like family in that hostel.”
It is difficult to tell exactly when Kunle turned to crime but indications points to when he dropped out, at this point, his lodgemates say he was no longer seen in the hostel.
The News Digest understands that Kunle purchased a certificate for himself at a university in Cotonou, Benin, but it remains unclear to what extent he used this certificate in commiting his criminal acts.
Toyin, whose job was to refer as many persons to invest in the company, and leveraged on her friend’s trust to do so, claims she had no idea everything about Popoyo was a lie.
How did Poyoyo Investment manage to avoid suspicion?
Poyoyo Investment limited offered a modest return on investment (ROI), at 20%, which was low enough to convince naive victims who were made to believe in bots that can manipulate the forex trading system.
Poyoyo, itself, was presented to the public as an ingenious investment scheme that would engender financial inclusion, expand access to financial services, offer financial security with the overall objective of freeing millions of Nigeria from the grip of poverty.
Kunle and his operators leveraged on human relationship to expand their network of investors. Like Jamiu, several other Nigerians were convinced to invest in Poyoyo by Toyin and took up the role of a referral themselves when they urged their friends to make a cash commitment to the scheme.
On its website, Poyoyo says it invest in stocks, bonds, venture capitalism and derivatives, but it does not make a persuasive argument on the system in use to guarantee returns from these investments.
Poyoyo runs four separate investment plans.
Option A is an investment with a minimum capital of N100,000.00 for one month and yields a ROI of 20%.
Option B is an investment with a minimum capital of N300,000.00 for three months that yields a monthly ROI of 23%.
Option C is an investment with a minimum capital of N500,000 for six months that yields a with a monthly ROI of 25%.
Option D is an investment with a minimum capital of N1,000,000 for one year that yields a monthly ROI of 30%.
In all, Poyoyo had put together a convincing package for unsuspecting victims: a website with user friendly features that separates it from forex swindlers on social media platforms, a modest ROI thought to be achievable given the initial investment and an authentication by the Corporate Affairs Commission, which presages complaint about the inadequacies of the CAC—it had become easily too accessible.
Victims like Jamiu and Toluwalope say it was easy to think the platform was free from fraudulent activities after they confirmed it was duly registered with the CAC. Indeed, Poyoyo got registered on February 17, 2021 with registration number, 1758808 and still retains an ‘active’ status a month after the SEC associated the platform with criminal activities.
Attempts by security officials to shut down Popoyo
Earlier, the Security and Exchange Commission had served Poyoyo a court order restricting the platform from having access to their bank accounts.
Poyoyo denied on November 5, 2021 it had been served a court order for illegal operations in a desperate attempt to keep the platform operational. “We now have a new update from SEC regarding while this situation is still unresolved,” it said on its Instagram. “The company is on the verge of fixing this problem and we ask that you be a little bit more patient with us, as you have always done.”
While investors were waiting for the update which never came, SEC revealed on December 24 that its investigation had confirmed Poyoyo was indeed a fraudulent venture and warned Nigerians to stay clear.
“The Commission hereby notifies the investing public that Poyoyo Investment (PILVEST) Nigeria Limited have no tangible business model; hence it is a PONZI SCHEME where returns are paid from other people’s invested sum,” read a statement from the Commission.
According to SEC, which regulates the capital market and oversees investments to prevent fraud, Poyoyo didn’t, at any point, register its operation at the Commission.
One victim, who asked to be anonymous, said he didn’t realise Kunle Adesua was a swindler until after the seventh month he had known him. Within that period, he had made several payments to the platform, one of which was one million naira in August 2021 when he was promised he would receive a 23% collaborative interest.
“I got to know him in school,” he said. “He was a colleague and his girlfriend [who referred me to the investment plan] was my friend. Kunle Adesua robbed me of two million naira.”
Another, Oluwajolade Paul, said he got to know Kunle Adesua and his Poyoyo venture through referrals, and subsequently, through Kunle’s social media pages.
Paul lost in excess of 1.5million naira from two different payments of over a million naira which would have earned him an accumulative interest above a million naira.
Since losing their money to Kunle fraudulent business, the victims acknowledge they made several attempts to contact him without any success. He has neither answered calls or returned text messages.
Note: Names of the victims scammed have been changed to suit their desire of being anonymous and not wanting their real names to be published.
Visit to Akure head office
Kunle Adesua, based in Akure, the Ondo state capital, has been on the run since SEC secured a court order to freeze the bank account of the company. His current location? No one knows yet even as security operatives begin their investigation to bring him to justice.
On his now private account on Instagram, Kunle Adesua @investorpoyoyo still claims to be a youth ambassador of ECOWAS.
When News Digest visited Poyoyo’s head office at No. 40, 2nd floor, suite A, beside First Baptist church, Oba-Adesida road, the office was vacant and locked. When correspondents attempted entry, a middle-aged man at the premises said, “Even if you go upstairs now, nothing is there. They’ve ran away.”
According to the man, several investors from Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja have been to the head office in Akure to confront the company.
“Just recently, a young man came all the way from Lagos to know if this office is closed down after being duped of over 17 million naira,” he said. “Where they ran to, we don’t know.”
A woman, who identified herself as Mrs Kayode, said her friend was still in shock from losing her hard earned money. “She had invested in this scheme and later got to know that she has fell into the wrong hand.”
A trader within the market said he would have been a victim also but he followed his instinct and settled not to join.
“It is of recent that I got to know it is fraud. I feel sorry for the victims and I hope the law caught up with him,” he said.
“I was blinded by love” – Oyejobi Toyin
Oyejobi Toyin who helped to expand Poyoyo’s network through referrals said she did all she did because she trusted Kunle enough to keep to his assurances that nothing fraudulent was going to result from the platform.
“If I had known that things like this is going to come up at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have. Even myself and those close to me are in a jumble right now because we put our monies there,” she said.
According to Toyin, that trust was largely in part to their 3-year relationship which started in 2018 shortly after they met in school.
“I don’t even know if I should say he’s my boyfriend or was my boyfriend because everything that is going on now, we’ve not been talking,” she said. “He doesn’t even reply me.”
On its website, Poyoyo claims over 7000 persons invested in the platform although it could be an attempt to exaggerate the profile of the company. Toyin, who alluded to convincing friends to join, said she has lost count of the number she referred.
“I can’t even say. I put it on my WhatsApp status and all when everything was going well (in the early days when the company made use of Whatsapp). I think they (friends and associates) invested because they know I was there which they trusted me that nothing is going to happen.”
Toyin added that she was also a victim of Kunle’s scam because she invested her money in the platform, unknown to people.
“Even as everything turned out like this, I have a lot of people who text me which I don’t even know about when they invested. I am now the person they want to hold on to.”
Today, Toyin’s profile picture on Facebook is blank and recent pictures have been deleted. Her Instagram has also gone private. She said it was a measure to avoid insults that kept coming on her page and accusations that she had something to do with the scam.
She claims her close allies and household lost over 2 million naira to Poyoyo.
Ondo state ask victims to file a report
Police spokesperson for Ondo state, DSP Funmilayo Odunlaami says Ondo states residents must be vigilant and cautious when investing in any platform.
“I keep saying this to people: it is not everything you see that you rush into,” she said. “Make enquiries before rushing into any scheme.”
“You don’t just rush into businesses and come back saying you have been scammed,” she added.
Mrs Odunlaami said Poyoyo’s fraudulent practices in the state was unknown to her until News Digest called her office, largely because the victims were yet to call the attention of the police.
“Let the victims report at the nearest police station. It is with the information they provide on how they were scammed that we will work with. The information they give is what we will work with,” she said.
Attempts to reach Kunle Adesua has proven abortive. His mother and uncle were also inaccessible during the course of writing this report. All lines are switched off.
Ezekiel O. Kayode contributed to this report.