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.