Cases of investment scams have continued to rise in recent years, especially after Mavrodi Mundial Movement (MMM), a Global Ponzi scheme launched in 2015 before it shut down.
Unfortunately, the demise of MMM has not stopped more Ponzi-like schemes from appearing and fleecing unsuspecting Nigerians of their hard-earned savings.
One such investment scheme that some of our readers remember for loss of their money is Racksterli, an investment platform introduced by Michael Chidiebere Oti, also known as Black Gold.
The so-called investment platform emanated after the 2020 Covid-19 crisis that forced a lot of Nigerians to search for alternative investments with significant returns.
Racksterli provided this platform to many who had bought into their investment thesis believing that the success tales of early investors were a great impetus to invest their money.
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The platform offered a mouth-watering deal which is called the Racsterli Package. For example, for an investment of N14,000 and a guarantee of N21,600. The highest tier of the investment named “Topaz” earns an investor N9.3 million when you invest N20 million. Other similar tiers are Diamond, Ruby, Platinum, and Emerald amongst others.
As is the case with high reward schemes, positive stories from investors who had received their returns create a fear of missing out, which then provides a feeding ground to lure more investors.
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Role of Influencers
In addition to the eye-catching ROI (46–58%) promised within the short span, a lot of people were particularly drawn to the scheme by major influencers who advocated for the scheme.
Quam Adebola a fashion designer who lost several hundreds of thousands said,
“Naturally, I wouldn’t fall victim to such a scam considering that historically, I have been out of luck with many investment schemes. However, I was particularly drawn to invest in this one because of the video of Davido endorsing the platform.”
“I even had to drag a lot of people with me to invest and because of me, they have lost a lot”, he said, regretting his actions. “I don’t know how to face those people. It feels like they put their trust in me and I broke that trust,” he added.
The company founder Michael Chidiebere Oti, also leveraged superstar celebrities to help push his platform. One of such was Afrobeats Star, Davido.
In the 30 seconds video seen by Nairametrics, Davido said, “What’s up everybody. I wanna introduce you guys to one of the biggest investment platforms in Nigeria, racksterli.com. Make sure you visit the website and invest. There are lots of opportunities over there. With Racksterli, you get paid between 12 to 24 hours, you get paid instant payment. It has been very reliable for the past six months.”
Rackterli also won hearts through acts like programme sponsorship and leveraging celebrities such as Nancy Isime, Williams Uchemba, and others to woo more people to invest in his scheme.
The platform claimed the accumulated funds were diversified into real estate, forex trading, cryptocurrencies, and other business ventures. The real estate business was also believed to be one of the major money-spinners and thought to be delivering enough returns to repay investors until it could no longer deliver.
It all unraveled when the company could no longer meet up with its expected returns on investment. From our research, these schemes often run into trouble, when new investors dry up causing a shock in the cash inflows that is often relied on to repay investors whose payment were due.
Initially, the reasons provided were that they had glitches stating that invested capital was secured. Despite the excuses, investor money remained unpaid forcing the company to come up with what was thought to be a solution.
Mr. Michael Chidiebere Oti informed investors that they are considering the sale of some of its properties to raise funds so they can start paying back investors. They also told investors that payment will also be made from available funds being held at the time.
In one may have been a sign that something was wrong, the company informed investors that they could invest the same amount being owed to them to get back their full refunds. As ominous as that may have sounded, some investors still fell for it.
“Some people, who felt they would be able to quickly recover their lost fund, fell for it again.” Adebola told Nairametrics.
“For me, I knew that was the end of our money and I didn’t bother adding any more money. I only hoped and prayed that God touches his mind so he can pay us our money.”
One year after, no payment
It is over a year now and yet investors in Racksterli are yet to get their money back. While the total amount at stake is unclear, it is unlikely that anyone will be refunded the full amount of their investment.
The website of the company is also currently inactive and based on information gathered, neither the platform nor its founder has made any official pronouncements regarding payment to investors.
On its Instagram page a post reveals that dev.racksterli.com, the new platform celebrated 37,000 subscribers as of June 6th, 2021.
A lot of its victims also seem to have moved on with their lives since then, though many still carry the pain deep within. Some of the frustrated victimes wonder why Racksterli or Michael Chidiebere Oti are yet to be brought to book.
A user identified as Akanoaaa on social media said, “It disturbs me how anything has not been said or done about this guy since. He scammed thousands of Nigerians and his platform (racksterli) was so popular then and everybody just acting as if nothing happened.
“The guy is always on IG flaunting his ill-gotten wealth and nobody has ever said anything or take any action.”
Another user, Olaboy3 wrote, “I wonder why BlackGold is always excluded in all these. He brought in Davido, Nancy Isime and even started a TV show to make the racksterli scam look real.
“I saw him some months back at Lekki with about 4 policemen in 2 GWagons. I just shaked my end in regret of how my hard-earned money just zipped.”
For Moses Patrick who also lost a significant amount with the platform, his pain is the fact everyone has gradually forgotten about the whole thing and Michael will likely go scot-free than face the law. Most Ponzi schemes share a similar fate, especially in Nigeria.
While a direct message was sent to the Lagos state police PRO on any lead around the case, we couldn’t get a response from them as of press time.