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My Money Mistake: I Lost My Rent And School Fees To A Ponzi Scheme

My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.

For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 25-year-old PR professional who lost his rent and school fees to a ponzi scheme. He tells us about how it happened and the lessons he learnt from the experience. 

Could you tell me about your money mistake?

A while back, a friend reached out to me and invited me to join this investment platform that promised up to 200% interest in just a few months. He even showed me his own dashboard on the platform, and after seeing the interest he earned, I was convinced. 

Coincidentally, it was also around the time when my rent and tuition fee were due. My rent cost ₦350k, and my tuition fee was ₦130k, adding up to ₦480k. I called my dad that same week to request both payments, and he came through for me the following week.

Without thinking twice, I put all of it on the platform.

You weren’t scared?

Not at all. When I saw my friend making over ₦1 million from his ₦500k deposit, I just knew I had to join in. The plan was to delay paying my school fees and rent as much as I could and invite more people so I could make more profit. 

So, what happened next? 

After a while, I was already seeing my profits. I’d made up to ₦100k in interest, and I was really excited about it. Then, one day, I woke up to 59 messages in the WhatsApp group chat for people on the platform. 

When I opened the chat, I saw many of the group members complaining about not being able to access the platform. I was so afraid because the reality that I’d used my rent and school fees to invest in this platform finally dawned on me. I was also unemployed at the time, so I had no way to replace the funds.

Damn. What happened?

I checked the website on my end and saw the notification about a downtime. My capital and interest were intact, and my friend, who also had money stuck in the platform, reassured me that these network problems were common. Hearing that calmed me down, but that didn’t last long. 

It was my first time experiencing anything like this, and there was so much at stake. I was so anxious that I could barely sleep. I couldn’t even tell anyone else, because how do you explain putting your tuition fee and rent into an investment platform because a friend told you to. 

I kept the website open on my phone, and I kept refreshing it repeatedly. My plan was to withdraw my funds as soon as the platform was back online. However, that day never came.

What do you mean?

The server problem continued, and my friend’s encouragement was no longer working. Weeks later, the stories still continued, and that’s how I knew I’d been scammed. Till today, nothing.

And your school fees?

This is a funny story. My brother had also invested in another ponzi scheme that started around the time mine was ending, and he was one of the first to cash out. He got ₦150k from a ₦50k deposit. It eventually shut down, of course, but after he’d withdrawn from it. So he gave me the money.

And the rest?

Let’s just say a love interest paid for it. I told the person I had to pay for an exam and it was urgent. That’s how I got the balance. 

Lucky. What lesson did you learn from this experience? 

I’ve learnt to be very cautious of investment platforms that claim to give outrageous interests and to be more measured with risk. I typically don’t go for high risk investments, and I only invest money I can let go of if anything happens. 

I’ve also learnt to go for platforms that are more stable and reliable like PiggyVest.

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