In what will come across as a startling development, some jobseekers in Ogun State have been allegedly defrauded.
They were defrauded by officials of a direct selling and e-commerce company, QNet Infinity Millennial of Nigeria.
The firm, located on Oke Celestial Avenue, Ibafo, in the Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, was alleged to have defrauded the victims of sums ranging from N100, 000 to N500,000.
Some of the victims, who visited PUNCH Place, Magboro, last Tuesday, said they were promised jobs and food with a weekly bonus of $225 if they met certain targets.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the company rented a building, separate from its office, where some of the youths were accommodated.
A victim, Ezeosika Chinonso, 28, said he first paid N50,000 to the company’s manager, Emmanuel Njoku, in July 2020, when he joined the firm and later N450,000, adding that he was issued a receipt indicating he had N1m balance to pay.
He said, “I met many young people like me there and I was taken to a house called The Lodge, where over 200 people shared rooms and parlours in a building comprising three-bedroom flats in four units.
“We were promised that after our training with the company, the management would open domiciliary accounts for us where we would receive $225 every week. The feeding which we were told would be three times a day became once, and it was only eba and watery soup we were served.
“After some time, some of the managers — Ugochukwu, Vincent, Abel, Andrew, and Wisdom, who was in charge of the company — took us to a room called Paradigm Shift.
“In the Paradigm Shift, we were told that we should forget our previous lives and as we entered that room, our mentality should be geared towards making the company grow by bringing other people to join the company.”
Chinonso said when he discovered that the group was only collecting money from jobseekers, he reported the matter to the Ibafo Police Station.
He claimed that after some officials of the company visited the station, the police detained him.
“After beating me, I suffered a broken arm. The DPO later gave me N20,000 to treat myself but he said we should never come to the station again over QNet,” he added.
Another victim, Emmanuel Nwoma, said he paid N400,000 and was invited for training where he was told to bring two others to enable him to access the $225 weekly bonus.
He said, “I was introduced to QNet as a company that provides jobseekers opportunities. The form that I filled stated that the company was a direct-selling company and that it partnered DHL, Manchester City, hotels and travel agencies.
“What got me interested in the company was that I was told that they would pay $225 per week after being selected and that we would travel for jobs abroad and in Nigeria with top organisations.
“When I got there, I saw over 250 people in a building where I was taken to and shown a spot to keep my bags and sleep. They later took me to a room called Paradigm Shift. That was in October when I joined them.
“I was told to introduce two of my people to the company for me to access the $225 weekly bonus. This was after I asked them what exactly the company was selling and they said that they helped other companies produce and sell their products.
“I asked them if it was the marketing of products that they were doing and I was told that we were the products. This was when I started to suspect that they were fraudulent. I and some of the people here went to Ibafo Police Station and reported.
“When we got there, one Inspector Muri and Inspector Joseph asked us to give them N30,000 before they would do anything. Later, we saw one of the management staff at the police station and he was counting money, which he gave to the policemen. They detained us on Monday, January 9, 2023, and released us on the morning of the following day.
“Now, I cannot go back to Enugu because I borrowed money for this work without being aware that it’s a fraudulent company.
“Those I introduced to this work in my village are already fighting and threatening my mother that if I don’t get their money for them, they will kill her. I have been branded an outcast in my village because of QNet.”
A resident, Ayadi Moniaye, who made a hall available to some of the victims after they were ejected from the building that the company rented for them, said a petition on the matter had been sent to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2.
A victim from Taraba State, Abdurahman Ahmadu, and his brother, Salisu, told our correspondent that they paid N230,000 and when they saw the situation, they demanded a refund.
They said since then, the company had been harassing them with policemen from Ibafo.
PUNCH Metro observed that two of the accounts the victims claimed they paid into belonged to one Awoda Ugochukwu Kpakpando (0090030058 Access Bank) and Emmanuel Destiny Njoku (0091441738 Diamond Bank).
Our correspondents visited the firm’s operation base at Ibafo.
A landlord, Akinola Anibaba, whose building QNET rented to lodge some of the victims, said he was deceived.
He said, “When the men (QNET officials) came to rent our flat, they deceived us into thinking that they were the only ones who would stay in the two apartments that the company paid for.
“I was surprised to see a lot of boys in the compound after handing the keys to them when they paid fully. There are over 80 boys in my compound alone. We also learnt that the company rented different buildings aside from ours and the boys are just there idle without doing anything.
“It was when the rent of the first apartment elapsed that we refused to continue with QNET Infinity and Millennium Nigeria again and by March, this other apartment would also be taken from them. If there is anything that the Ogun State Government can do about this matter, it is better because if not, some of these boys may become security threats to our community. Presently, some of them have started engaging in bricklaying around the community.”
During a visit to the company’s office on Sunday, one of our correspondents discovered a Cooperate Affairs Commission certificate with registration number BN2987154 dated September 30, 2019, hanged in one of the offices.
It was observed that QNet Infinity Millennial of Nigeria was registered as a trading and general merchandise business with 17, Ndike Street, Obawole, Lagos State, as its address.
PUNCH Metro met with the owner of the Ibafo complex, who denied knowing the activities of the company.
The landlord look confused, as six of the victims narrated their ordeals.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the landlord, who refused to mention his name, said the company claimed to be a multi-player marketing firm.
He said, “The points they (victims) have made are strong points. I will also ask them what is happening when I see them tomorrow (Monday).
“Once I go in the morning, I don’t come back till late in the night. So, I don’t know what is happening here.
“These are the first six persons to come here with this kind of allegation; nobody has come here to complain about their activities.”
Checks by our correspondent showed that QNet is a global multi-level marketing company based in Hong Kong, China.
According to reports, the firm entered the Nigerian market after partnering another company in April 2022.
Further checks by PUNCH Metro on the website of the company showed it had been inundated with calls of scams.
A disclaimer, titled, ‘Fake employment offers using QNet’s Name,’ read in part, “The fake, false and misleading job offers in the name of QNet are being posted in online forums and social media. People are invited for interviews and subsequently asked for money.
“QNet does not offer job or travel opportunities in exchange for payment. If you or someone you know is approached with a ‘QNet job opportunity,’ do not engage.
“QNet is a direct-selling company which allows aspiring entrepreneurs to build their own business by becoming independent representatives of QNet.
“QNet condemns these scams and urges everyone not to engage with anyone who makes these fake offers. If you or someone you know is approached with such a QNet job opportunity, please immediately report it to the police and to our hotline e-mail.”
The firm, while responding to an e-mail from one of our correspondents, vowed to sanction the representatives who “misrepresented” the company.
“QNET uses a compensation plan that calculates commissions payable to you based on the sales volume generated through your referrals in our e-commerce portal.
“Please also note that our company rejects any kind of misrepresentation of its business by its representatives. Please note that telling lies about QNet, its products, or its compensation plan and scamming IRs/prospects is prohibited and sanctioned.” the In-Service Network Integrity Department stated.
Our correspondents contacted the Manager of the Ibafo office, Njoku, on the phone, but he declined to comment.
He said, “How did you get my number? Who gave you this number? Look, we are just a business.”
A man, who claimed to be the General Manager of QNet Infinity Millennial of Nigeria and identified himself as Wabara, said the company would never collect cash from jobseekers.
Wabara insisted that all company activities were done online.
He said, “We have different offices, and I am not in charge of all the offices. I know one of our offices is at Ibafo, but I don’t know those working there or the manager they are working under.
“The company does not demand money from people, but the company will ask you to register where you buy products.
“They get products for the money they paid. You help someone to buy a product, when you buy the product, the company will open an entrant dollar account for you. When you sell the product, you will get a commission, but everything is done online. I started this business in 2016, and I brought this business to Nigeria in 2019.”
The Divisional Police Officer, Ibafo, Ayinde Abiodun, did not take his calls or respond to text messages from our reporter.
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, after some days of calls and a text message from our correspondents, on Monday, said two of the workers had been arraigned.
He said, “Two of the workers at QNet were arrested and they were charged to court today (Monday). They were arraigned at Owode Magistrates’ Court on two counts of conspiracy and stealing.
“Four other workers are on the run; the two were charged alongside those at large. The police are doing everything to get the other four arrested so that they can face the wrath of the law.”
The police spokesman said he was not aware if any of the victims was beaten or detained.
The Zonal Police Public Relations Officer, Zone 2, Hauwa Idris, confirmed that the command received a petition on the matter.
She said, “Yes a man came to Zone 2 to report the activities of a company of the name you mentioned. But since then, the man and the victims have not come back to enable proper investigations to start.”