The pandemic had stretched on and on. There was nothing for James*, a 26-year-old university undergraduate, to do at the time. He needed to make money while the world was taking a strange turn
That’s when he discovered online investment schemes. He scraped his savings and started investing. His life changed for the better and, just as quickly, it all came crashing down. Here is his story.
When did you discover the online investment platforms?
It was in September, 2020. I was broke as hell and I needed money. A friend introduced me to Racksterli, an affiliate marketing website. I started with ₦12,000, which at that time was all I had. It gave me ₦36,000 in like a week, and I thought, “Yes, this is it!”
Was it really “it”?
At that point, it was. I was only clicking a few buttons here and there on the website every day, and I was getting triple or even more of my capital. What was there not to enjoy? I even spread the gospel and became like an ambassador for the platform.
And were you able to persuade people to join you in this gospel?
A lot of people did. They were seeing what the fast returns were doing for me. I became like a mini-celebrity; I was the proof anybody needed. I paid for my classmate’s appendix surgery. I bought a new Samsung phone for a friend. I was asking around for the price of fairly used cars.
Wait, wow, wait. Did you make enough to start making enquiries about cars?
Yes, I was making returns of ₦500,000 naira weekly at a point. I even wanted to travel to the United States with my siblings…
Those are big dreams…
Of course. You make a lot and it starts to get to your head. I thought the feeling would last forever. My life changed overnight, and I got used to a life of luxury — partying, drinking, you name it.
So, what happened?
This is a short interview… but yeah, we are listening.
See, it was all a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t know from the start or, wait, I knew but I was not ready to believe it. Man, risk is everything. My friends were telling me it would crash one day but one day could have been the next five years, right?
Did it make it to five years?
If it did, this interview would be on a different topic entirely. It would not be on how Ponzi schemes destroyed me, it would be on how I made it big from Ponzi schemes.
Ok, here we are nevertheless, go on.
So, yeah, I was not ready to believe it was a scheme. I kept going hard. The ROI was crazy and these guys were delivering. They had a physical office in Lagos, they had a customer service center you could call if you needed any help, their CEO was a big boy on Instagram chilling out with the big Instagram stars, so there was some sense of security with this one.
And then, one day…
I needed some millions and so I invested everything I had in it, thinking that in one month’s time I would get my returns. The website crashed on the morning I was supposed to cash out.
Our Whatsapp group chats went crazy because it was supposed to be payday. The rest is history. People who could go to the office went there that morning and discovered it was a ruse. Everything was a sham.
How did you cope?
I did not cope. I am not coping. There was a lifestyle I was leading and now I am pleading on Whatsapp status for people to help me sort some bills. The same status I had used to post me living premium life a year ago.
What lessons did you learn from it?
Of course, to never do schemes again. There are other legit investment platforms.
Yes, many. I set myself up. Every day I wake, I think about the life I lived during that period and I want it back. Anything short of that for me is hell. But it was a flash in the pan.