The bank, operating under the name Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative Society, MMCS, reportedly defrauding over 13,000 people N27bn who trusted them with their money.
The scheme owned and operated by one Michael Eke, had promised depositors of N100,000 an additional N50,000 at the end of 40 days, and those who deposit N150,000 would get N300,000 at the same period, Vanguard reports. A deposit of N1 million would earn a N500,000 profit at the end of the same period while deposits above N1 million would be calculated in N1 million units.
The scheme berthed in Calabar in June 2018 had been attracting patronage from Cross River state residents. Some of the depositors parted with their life savings and others deposited their gratuities, which run into millions, with the hope of reaping bountifully at the end of 40 days.
However, at the end of the 40 days, some depositors got only a small part of their deposits sent back to them, while over 13,000 others did not get anything and have since not heard from the operators of the bank in the past one month. Their office in Calabar has remained shut since then.
The scheme started as a Swiss marketing company on WhatsApp and in less than one month, the groups grew to about 36 all providing information on the benefits of joining the scheme and attracted a lot of people.
A victim, Edna Nzegu, said:
I have N33 million stocks with the scheme. It may not be much compared to what others have but this has destabilised my life and turned me to mad woman with no bearing and I have lost interest in life and work.
Some of the depositors accused a Calabar-based comedian, MC Mbakara, of conniving with Mr Eke to fleece them of their money by promoting the scheme on his WhatsApp thread and website, which persuaded them to believe that the scheme was genuine and he has since gone into hiding.
Speaking from his hideout, Mbakara said he was not part of the company even when he was appointed vice president of the scheme by Eke.
I have been accused of so many things I am not aware of. I am not on the run and not hiding. My phone lines have been open and I am very available.
He added he was only a brand ambassador whose following on and offline was used by Eke to drive an aggressive campaign that brought a lot of depositors to the scheme.
Cross River Police Command spokesperson, Ms Irne Ugbo, said reports had been made by some depositors of the scheme and investigation is ongoing “to unravel what the scheme is about and what actually happened to the depositors’ funds.”