The couple runs a business investment platform, Zari Club, where investors put in money and expect to earn a monthly return on investment (ROI).
Since 2020, the funds which the couple received have vanished. Zaram, the business coordinator, also went into hiding, investors who spoke to The ICIR noted.
They also noted Zaram could no longer be reached on the phone. Her number, 0809 455 – – – – appears to have been ‘forwarded’ to another number. This makes it difficult for callers to reach her.
Two of the victims who volunteered information to The ICIR on the scam said they invested N300,000 and N100,000 each.
Checks by our reporter revealed that the majority of the investors are females. The investors are largely based in Nigeria, and a few live abroad.
Zaram was said to have vanished in 2020 without committing the funds into the businesses she agreed with the investors.
Our reporter learnt that she had agreed to import pharmaceuticals and textiles to sell for profit. She was to also use part of the money to purchase vehicles for transportation services.
According to some of the investors who shared their experiences with The ICIR, each investor was to get a five per cent profit of the amount they put into the business monthly, on the condition they would not demand for the money they put into the business for at least a year.
Many investors said Zaram exited the social media platform (Whatsapp group), where Zaram interacted with the investors two years back but kept her husband there.
“Her husband gives her feedback of our discussions on the platform,” one of the investors told our reporter.
Our reporter got screenshots of messages on the Whatsapp group, where the investors vented their anger and called Zaram unprinted names.
The investors claimed they had not received any feedback from her since she left the platform.
The victims said they had done business with Zaram before she married Nwadike in 2021.
However, Zaram posted two messages on her Facebook page on February 26, apologising to her clients and admitting she had fled from them.
She said she gave the money to her ‘friends’ who collaborated with an Australian partner who she did not mention.
She said the friends disappeared with the money and shut down all communication channels with her.
“I call them my friends because I have known them for more than five years, even before Zari Club started. We’ve done several businesses in the past before the idea to start Zari Club came about.
“For the past months, we’ve had hopes that the money was going to be recovered from the Australian partner whom we were told was their supplier. It’s been months now, and we are yet to receive a single naira.
“At the beginning of this year 2022, these my friends’ numbers suddenly went off. Their Facebook pages were deleted and their office closed.”
She said she was working with her husband to refund the victims.
She said her family was trying to track the fleeing partners and recover the money.
Zaram said she gave 80 per cent of the contributions to the friends from who the alleged fleeing Australian took the fund.
Is Zari Club registered in Nigeria as a business entity?
The ICIR could not confirm if Zari Club is registered as a business entity in Nigeria and if it operates as a legal entity.
A search for “Zari Club” on Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission did not produce any result. That does not mean the organisation was not registered. Many organisations fail to appear on the CAC’s website whenever they fail to meet certain obligations with the government.
NGCheck, an open-source website that captures all registered entities in the country, also did not produce any results for Zari Club.
Zaram, investors fight on Facebook
Zaram reacted to comments made by some of her investors where she claimed one made false accusations about her family.
She said her family had refunded some of the victims with over a million Naira through the pharmacy shop it ran.
She emphasised her innocence and claimed she had never stolen anyone’s belongings.
In another post she made that day, she admitted she had not spoken with the investors “for a long time.”
She said she did so because she wanted to ensure she refund them.
“It’s sad to know that the people calling me a scammer and dragging me are the same people who have been collecting their interest before this problem started.”
Some of the victims and other friends attacked her, while others sympathised with her.
In one of her reactions to Zaram’s posts, Grace Obialo said, “but she (Zaram) was on the run until she surfaced.
“She changed her numbers, paid off those who knew her house address, deactivated her Facebook account and muted the investors’ group.”
Jubilee Okoro said, “That you even have the effrontery to type and defend your actions speaks volumes. I am very disappointed in you, Zaram! Words fail me, honestly. Very sad.”
Amaka Emenike Godwin was among the investors who consoled her.
She urged Zaram to be strong and expressed hope that she would recover the money. “I know what this situation has caused me, but deep inside of me, I have this confidence that you didn’t plan for such an ugly situation. And I believe that you will pay as soon as money enters your hand.
“I have never known how it feels to be in huge debt, I’ve never been there, but I know that is not easy with you.”
Another sympathiser, Jane Chiemela, prayed that God see her through.
The ICIR reporter contacted Zaram’s husband on the phone. He said the situation had traumatised his wife.
When asked to state his family’s account of the accusation, he declined and said the matter was with the Police.
He opposed The ICIR’s decision to publish this story.
He said publishing it would worsen his family’s predicaments and would affect the investigation into the matter.
Because Zaram’s phone number was unavailable, the reporter messaged her on Facebook Messenger, requesting she responds to the allegation. She has yet to respond at the time of this publication.
The spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Adekunle Ajisebutu said the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) in the state handled fraud cases. He added that the SFU was not under the state Police Command.
The ICIR contacted the spokesperson of the SFU, Eyitayo Johnson, who said he was not aware of the matter.
Johnson explained that there were about 16 departments at the SFU handling different frauds.
According to him, some petitioners could have written to the ICU over the incident. But the incident had not been brought to his notice, he stated.
Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ email@example.com.