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Is Africunia Bank Legit Or A Scam?

Recently our Intel team received a request to find our if Africunia Bank (africuniabank.com) is a legitimate entity. On their website, Africunia states that they are a digital banking app that fulfils your financial transactional needs. From transferring your money or receiving payments, we keep track of all your money. With 2.5 million users online, we are providing our services in 180+ countries. The customer support is 24/7, and we are dealing with currencies worldwide. Our intuitive global money transfer app is easy to use, fastest, and 100% secure.

If Africunia was all about transferring money and receiving payments, then you won’t be reading this. There’s more as Africunia offers a host of other services. Worth of note are its loan facility, fixed deposit scheme and deposit pension scheme. As regards to loans, Africunia writes, We are an authorised loan Provider bank in nigeria and have got the best Loan Plans for you at a reasonable and unbeatable rate.

Authorized Loan Provider?

The pertinent question to ask is authorized by which agency or organization? Currently, to be authorized to give out loans, a company must either be licensed under the money lending law of a particular state or by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a Finance Company or as a Microfinance Bank. Since license obtained under the Money Lending Law of a state does not permits money lending activities outside that state, we can rule out state licensing for Africunia as it offers it services nationwide. Also, it is neither licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a Microfinance Bank or a Finance Company.

Checking the Corporate Affairs Commission’s website, we find that Africunia was registered in 2017.

A further check showed that it was registered as GENERAL CONTRACT AND MERCHANDISE under its business activity.

Collectively, all these raise considerable doubt about its claim of being authorized.

Mobile Money Operator?

There’s a page titled “Deposit Money in Nigeria” on Africunia’s website. The page has these words:

Download AFRICUNIA BANK digital banking app to deposit money in Nigeria. We have an easy-to-use, user-friendly digital banking application that can help one fulfill their financial transaction needs. We operate in over 180 countries, allowing our users financial freedom with our global money transfer app. On top of that, you do not have to worry about the transfer fee or any other similar charges, as we offer our services at minimal costs. Our 2.5 million users can vouch for that.

You simply cannot find a better way to deposit money in Nigeria than AFRICUNIA BANK. Do not think for a second more; download our app and signup today! It is one of the best decisions you can make. Now, connect with us and get immediate help with your specific needs.

Clearly Africunia is offering mobile money services to Nigerians. But the Central Bank of Nigeria states in its Framework and Guidelines on Mobile Money Services that Mobile Money Operators shall not Grant any form of loans, advances and guarantees (directly or indirectly). Africunia has gone against this directive by offering loans on its application, another reason to doubt its claim of being authorized.

Fixed Deposit Scheme?

Africunia also offers a fixed deposit scheme. A fixed deposit is a financial instrument that offers a higher rate of return than a regular saving account.

But as already noted, there is no indication that Aficunia is registered or authorized to carry out this activity.

Deposit Pension Scheme?

Africunia also has a Deposit Pension Scheme amongst its offerings. A pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee’s employment years and from which payments are drawn to support the person’s retirement from work in the form of periodic payments.

Since pensions are not to be used till a person retires why is Africunia’s pension scheme rated 7, 14 and 30 days? Also, the Pension Reformed Act states that pension funds are to be privately managed exclusively by licensed Pension Fund Administrators (PFA). Africunia is not listed as a licensed Pension Fund Administrator on the Pencom website. This is another service that Africunia is offering which is not authorized.

FINTRAC licensed?

Africunia displays a message at the footer of its website that it is a Canadian licensed and regulated financial institution (MSB).

The obvious question is why an organization offering services in Nigeria needs to be registered as a money services business in Canada and not Nigeria? FINTRAC also clearly states on their website that Registration with FINTRAC does not indicate that FINTRAC endorses or licenses the business. It indicates only that the business has satisfied the legal requirements to register. This statement is particularly important as we have seen several other fraudulent platforms use FINTRAC registration to appear legitimate, an example is Intelligence Prime Capital which performed an exit scam earlier this year.

In conclusion, Africunia offers services that runs afoul of extant laws and regulations, should you proceed to do any business with them, know that you are doing so at great risk.

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Evading Non-Delivery Scams

As with everything these days, buying and selling of goods and services has moved online. Anything can be bought online, from sneakers and pizzas to cars and gadgets, online purchasing is the rave around the world, but like most things, it comes with its challenges and criminals will try to exploit it for their nefarious aims. Non-delivery scams are a way that fraudsters have been able to fleece unsuspecting online shoppers. A non-delivery scam occurs when a fraudster collects payment on the promise of delivering goods but absconds and never delivers. The major conduits that criminals use are E-commerce websites, social media, online marketplaces and drop shipping.

E-commerce non-delivery scam

This occurs when fraudsters set up fake e-commerce websites. These websites have fake listings for real products below the market value. This low price attracts online shoppers to make orders. The shoppers are charged but the product is not delivered. Here are tips to avoiding this type of non-delivery scam.

  • Only patronize recognized e-commerce stores with verifiable track records.
  • Look for buyer and seller reviews, an absence of which shows that you are dealing with a scam
  • Research the merchant, make sure they are resident at their physical address.
  • Do not be swayed by advertising with promotional offers of low pricing or limited time.
  • Look out for websites displaying verification from government agencies. Since such verifications do not exist, a website displaying this is a scam.
  • Look out for requests to take the conversation offline or to make a transfer instead or using the website payment channel.

Social Media non-delivery scam

In social media non-delivery scams, the fraudster makes use of a social media account, page, group, or marketplace to defraud the victim. This has become quite rampant as social media has become a tool to promote businesses and a lot of people have used it to purchase goods directly from a seller without any intermediary. For those who choose to go this route to purchase goods, take note of the points below to avoid non delivery scams.

  • Ask friends and family for recommendations. The seller must be someone who they have personally done business with.
  • Thoroughly research the seller’s profile. Check when the account or page was created. If it is recent then be wary. Check activities and engagements. Low frequency of posts and posts about events from a location different from what is stated on their profile are warning signs. Use reverse image search to see if pictures on the profile turn up elsewhere on the internet. Sparse profile bio and few contacts are also red flags.
  • Run a search using the profile name. This should be done using both a search engine and the search feature on social media app. Type the account name followed by words like “scam” “fraud” etc.
  • Use a known third party to facilitate the trade. Popular admins who are well known and have a good reputation can be used. Money would be first transferred to them, and they would hold it in trust till you examine the goods, and when everything checks out, they would then transfer it to the seller. They usually demand a small fee for their services.

Online Marketplace non-delivery scam

Online Marketplaces provide buyers and sellers with an avenue to meet and exchange goods and services. An example of this would be Jiji. Such platforms also have scammers posing as sellers, here are the pointers to keep in mind to avoid getting scammed.

  • No matter the circumstance, never make payment before an item is delivered, and make sure to check that it is functioning as agreed.
  • Inspect the seller’s profile. Chech how old the profile is. New profiles are a red flag.
  • Type the seller’s number on a search engine, do not proceed if you find negative reports or associations of any kind.
  • Meet the seller in a public place for pickup, inspection, and payment.
  • Always ask for a receipt and a traceable address.

Dropshipping non-delivery scams

Dropshipping is a commercial activity in which a merchant sells goods without having to keep physical stock. They act like middlemen between the manufacturers and final buyers. Dropshipping has grown in popularity due to the ease of setting up online stores using such tools as Shopify and WooCommerce. This popularity has attracted scammers, who are constantly looking for ways to swindle newbies. They do this by pretending to be manufacturers or their distributors, promising goods at low prices. But once payment is made to them, they disappear. Below are tips to prevent you from being a victim.

  • Watch out for low prices. While new manufacturers and their distributors might offer low prices to sideline established brands, the presence of low prices is often an indication of a scam. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it is.
  • Verify Business Details. Ask for company or business license number, phone number and address then cross-check these details against a database of registered companies for that country.
  • If it is an e-commerce marketplace like AliExpress, only patronize distributors with excellent feedback scores while also considering how long they have been in business.
  • Ask for pictures of environment, product, inventory and more, then request an unscheduled video meeting to verify same.

In conclusion, don’t feel pressured by limited time offers and special prices. Watch out for requests to pay additional fees, as this could be what the fraudster is after, and do not make payment if you feel or think anything is wrong.

Contributors:

  • Badmus Anuoluwapo
  • Izuchukwu Paschal Ugwu
  • Okanlawon Teslimat Adedamola
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Is Royal Q Legit Or A Scam?


The first thing noticeable about Royal Q (royalqs.com) is its scanty home page devoid of pertinent information, but fortunately its description on Google does play provides some juicy details:

Royal Q intelligent quantitative system, the full English name of Royal Quantitative, is a system that focuses on artificial intelligence quantitative trading. 4 years of digital currency trading system quantitative strategy development experience, has successively built quantitative systems for many international private equity funds, and perfect investment quantitative strategy models , To maximize the utilization of member funds, and to help members maximize their profits through quantitative transactions in the digital currency market.

Has Royal Q been around for four years?

From the description above, Royal Q makes the claim that they have been doing digital currency trading for at least four years. Our first step in verifying this claim was to check the WHOIS details of their website to ascertain its age. Below is a screenshot

The registration date of the domain is 22 February 2021, showing the domain is not up to four years old. Also, a search for the company on the internet yielded two results, both of which show the company was incorporated in 2021. The first, an incorporation in Hong Kong and another in California.

From this, we can deduce Royal Q’s claim of being in existence for four years is false. As such, we must ask what kind of business generates 117 million plus profit in a year six months of operation?

Where is the documentation to back this up? There’s no audited financial report on the Royal Q website.

Who programs the strategy for the bot?

Royal Q claims to have an AI bot that runs quantitative trading.

The Royal Q website has no information about the principal officers of its company or its technical team. So how can anyone know if this bot has been programmed correctly or if those who programmed it have the technical competency? Also, if someone has a bot that can generate 117 million in profits will such a person be offering that bot for sale on the internet? Moreover, when you consider that quantitative trading strategy loses its effectiveness when other market actors learn of it, it would make no sense to sell such a winning bot, let alone at the paltry sum of $120.

A pyramid scheme?

Royal Q boldly displays a badge on its website which says “Build your community. Extra bonuses via our referral program”

Navigating to Quora, we find a post in which some users of Royal Q narrate their experiences. Vignesh Subramanian confirms that Royal Q is a pyramid scheme, he writes “When you refer someone, you get some % of their profit, so it’s more like a MLM scheme where you refer people and you can make money from their profits too.”

Securites Fraud Warning

The Securities and Exchange Commision of the Philippines has flagged Royal Q. After a detailed investigation into the scheme, they write “the scheme employed by ROYAL Q/ROYAL Q GLOBAL/ROYAL Q MOBILE APP/ROYAL QUANTITY INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO., LIMITED, shows indication of a possible “Ponzi Scheme” where monies from new investors are used in paying “fake profits” to prior investors and is designed mainly to favor its top recruiters and prior risk takers and is detrimental to subsequent members in case of scarcity of new investors.

Putting it all together, we have a platform that lies about how long it has been in existence, with no information about its owners or management team, has a pyramid structure and a regulator has issued a securities fraud warning against it. Our advice is to stay clear as it is surely a fraudulent scheme.

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Grant Scam (Theobarthglobalfoundation.com)

Theobarth Global Foundation, a non-governmental organization, is currently in the eye of the storm due to its grant offering. When we got wind of this, we decided to investigate the matter to separate fact from fiction. Theobarth Global Foundation, which will be referred to as TGF, has an official YouTube Channel. The channel has links to two websites (theobarth.org, tgsl.com.ng) and a Telegram group.

No mention or reference is made to the website theobarthglobalfoundation.com which is a top result when you run a google search.

The website (theobarthglobalfoundation.com) is awash with photos of Theophilus O. Ebonyi and has the foundation’s logo.

On the Grant Application page, we find that to access the grant, payment must be made. Applications are for three categories, NGO, Cluster head and ordinary beneficiary. For NGO, the amount required to qualify for the grant is =N= 48,900, for cluster head =N= 28,900 and ordinary beneficiary =N= 2,900.

Navigating to the grant form page, we find that the amount above to be paid into an OPAY account with account number 7032253004.

Let us pause and consider the obvious. This is a scam. First, no one needs to pay money to receive a grant. A grant is money given by the government or some organization to a particular individual, group of people or another organization for a particular purpose. If you had to give money to receive a grant, then it would no longer be a grant. What about the giver of the grant? Would they not incur operational costs in collating applications, disbursements as well as monitoring to make sure they funds are deployed judiciously? Absolutely. But this cost is usually already accounted and budgeted for and not transferred to the recipient as a condition for receiving the grant. Once you are being asked to pay money in whatever form to receive a grant, know that you are being scammed.

Another line of evidence that points to this being a scam is the use of an OPAY account to collect funds. Why would an NGO with donors promising to give out grants be using an OPAY account? What happened to traditional bank accounts? If it is still confusing, consider that OPAY is a mobile money vendor. Its accounts are suited to individuals, especially those who may find it difficult to access traditional banking services. As such, such is not suited for funds collection by an NGO.

Also, the use of an OPAY account to collect funds gives us a picture of the way this scam works. First, a bit of background about OPAY. To open an OPAY account all you need to do is download the OPAY app and verify your phone number, input a name, email and date of birth. This automatically gives you a tier 1 account and your phone number is your account number minus the first digit. Below are the account limits.

To move to Tier 2, you need to add your BVN. Below are the transaction limits.

Notice that for both Tiers of account, the highest amount that can be made in a single transaction is =N= 50,000. To see why this is significant, go back to the amounts being requested for “registration,” the highest amount, that for NGOs is =N= 48,900. This is so as not to exceed the daily transaction limit. To confirm this, we sent an email to the address listed on the website and we got the response below.

We were requested to pay =N= 48, 900 into another OPAY account. Since this sum is above =N= 20,000 but less than =N= 50,000, it must surely be a tier 2 account. Since your account numbers are your phone numbers, all the fraudsters need to do is have multiple phone numbers and they can register various accounts using the name Theobarth with slight variations in spellings or using abbreviations.

Further perusal of the website led to a link to a Facebook page which also revealed more of the operation of the scammer(s). We found that the page is linked to a group.

The group has two administrators, the Facebook page and an account called Favour Feyi.

Looking at the account Favour Feyi revealed that it was a fake account also known as a sock puppet. The account posted about another Facebook group called Binance Crypto Academy on the 14th of July.

The Binance Crypto Academy group posted the link to their WhatsApp group on the 20th of July.

These are the numbers of the Admins of the Binance Crypto Academy on WhatsApp

A quick google search of one of the admin’s number 08069988970 led to a comment on Facebook.

A review of the account Anne Chinyere revealed it was another impostor account, and that it was also connected to the previous account Favour Feyi, as both were admins of another group called Obi Cubana & Ned Nwoko Empowerment.

Revisiting the Binance Crypto Academy Facebook group, we found another impostor account named Precious Chinenye.

A perusal of the account Precious Chinyere showed it promoting a fake token exchange platform called GTE Finance (www.gte.finance).

From the above, it’s clear that it’s the same person or group of people that are behind these accounts, websites, groups, and pages. We also concluded that Theophilus O. Ebonyi or his organization Theobarth Foundation is in no way connected to theobarthglobalfoundation.com, as the brain or brains behind this are behind other scams such as Global Token Exchange (www.gte.finance), Binance Crypto Academy, Obi Cubana & Ned Nwoko Empowerment, Yul Edochie page, and Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation. If you are friends with any of the listed accounts or groups, kindly report, and block.

In conclusion we would like to reiterate that if at any point while seeking a grant, you are asked to pay money, know that it is a scam.