The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Dreams for Chains: How Phony Entrepreneurial Fund by KESEM Plans to Scam Youth in Business
KESEM YIB displayed itself as a charitable organization willing to help 1,000,000 youth-entrepreneurs by 2050. It said will be supporting them with a $1000 seed funding and said everything is free. Added that it has been in existence since 2019. But these were all deceptions…
On July 17, 2023, enthusiasm settled as Google News popped up a piece of news from the MSME website containing an application for the Kelvin Ewoma Samuel Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Youth in Business (KESEM YIB) program. (This news has been later unpublished). But for some reasons, I decided to click on the link and that one single click led me to discover a chain of fraud, masking as charitable foundation willing to help youth in business. This was after I had joined and registered for the training.
KESEM YIB displayed itself as a charitable organization willing to help 1,000,000 youth-entrepreneurs by 2050. It said will be supporting them with a $1000 seed funding and said everything is free. Added that it has been in existence since 2019.
But these were all deceptions. KESEM YIB is a fake organisation carefully chosen to be mistook as KESEM or Camp KESEM, a US-based charitable organisation.
KESEM YIB isn’t free and demands $8 from applicants before giving them the $1000 seed funding which they may never receive.
KESEM YIB has not been in existence since 2019 and one of their partners, among many others who all denied them, said KESEM YIB just started the initiative this year.
After my application, I was added to a Whatssap group where over 500 participants had joined. A few minutes later, the number multiplied a one-tenth per cent of the existing number. It was unsure if there were other groups but in my group we were over 900.
At that point, we were updated to validate our registration again. This validation will grant us the opportunity to have our hands on the program’s handbook. We must be validated or else, disqualification will beacon. I did my validation and downloaded the e-book handbook.
Bearing in mind the contrasting thoughts of Camp KESEM and KESEM YIB, I scanned through all the handbook and I found intriguing web of deceit at play.
KESEM YIB, wrote they’ve been in existence since 2019 and have helped over 800 entrepreneurs. However, Who.Is, a website technologically created to lookup identities of people and websites, found that the website; www.kelvinsamuel.yib.com was just created in 2022 and will expire this year, 2023. No 2019 information about them was found.
Also, social media doesn’t have an iota of information about their past records which further reengineered suspicion over the authenticity of their program.
Meanwhile, one out of their claimed eight partners who identified with them; Relentless Network Limited said when speaking to me as a helpless entrepreneur who is looking for funding, “they are just starting. They are not a scam. Pay…”
He enjoined me to pay a sum of $8 they were requesting.
The Opportunists 12,000, the Chosen 5000, the Premium 1000, $8 and the non-refundable $1000
Though it was publicly displayed as free, the handbook noted all the needed 5000 applicants out of the over 12,000 must pay a sum of $8 for a letter of recommendation and certification which they have to submit for the business plan and pitch submission phase.
This payment was made mandatory as anyone who couldn’t pay will forfeit their chance of securing a $1000 seed fund.
I have never heard of a foundation asking for money before helping people. So, this further deepen my curiosity that KESEM YIB of Nigeria may probably be a fake.
Physical working address, Fake
Tracing back KESEM YIB foundation’s working address which was given on its website as “Primal TEK Plaza, Off Mokoal Bus stop, Egbeda Bus stop, Lagos – Nigeria”—Jerome Kalu, the PIJAlance Correspondent found that they don’t physically exist in that address.
Kalu also found that it is not Mokoal but it is called Mokola and no shop owners or security men at the plaza ever heard of Kelvin Ewoma Samuel Mentorship and Entrepreneurship foundation, much less of KESEM YIB.
This joined the existing exhibit questioning the legitimacy of KESEM YIB. But these were not all.
The final blow; we don’t know KESEM YIB
Further in the handbook, I found a list of their partners and I was glad as I was inspired on what I will do with the list. Thanks to them for providing the list, I wouldn’t have escape their labyrinth.
The partners were Quickbiz Africa Group, Millennia Group of Companies, Relentless Network Limited, Digital Skills Hub, Bemita Digital Limited, Skillfiggo International, Airtel and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc.
Starting with the Airtel Nigeria, the telecommunication company denied that it is affiliated or has partnered with any foundation called KESEM YIB through its call representative.
GTB also responded through its representative who simply gave her name as Bola to have never known KESEM YIB or associated with them. She said, “Gtbank is not partner.”
Bemita Digital Limited is a company that never existed and if it existed, it is out of the reach.
Digital Skills Hub, through its call representative Dayo also denied KESEM YIB strongly before even knowing their name, saying they never had any partnership with such a foundation and warned me to be careful of scammers.
“Okay. Maybe they mixed it up with another digital skills hub. For now, we’re not partnering with anyone we want to sponsor. So, maybe you should actually find a way to investigate this very well. Because we are based in Lagos and we run like a digital school and it is in session, shar.”
Skillfiggo International representative requested to see the handbook and after that denied its association with KESEM YIB while advising that I should beware of scammers.
Millennia Group of Companies, though its representative, Lara was kind of reluctant, but they also said had never had partnership with KESEM YIB.
Quickbiz Africa Group was out of the reach as only Quickbiz Global ventures and Quickbiz Africa Limited existed on Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) directory—both of which were unreachable.
Only the representative of the Relentless Network Limited, who gave his name as David, told me the company is in partnership with KESEM YIB and that I should pay them $8 they asked.
He also contrasted what the handbook had said that KESEM has been in operation since 2019 as he told me, “They just started.”
Further investigation found that the founder of pseudo company, Quickcart and one whose name was after KESEM, has no proven track record of coaching for some years.
He is also the only manager of the Whatssap group and the telegram channel. He obviously runs a foundation program with no team members, yet has always been claiming “our teams.”
The website of KESEM YIB was rated 1/10 on virustotal.com, a similar website to Who.is which scan website url for malwares. The rate is possibly signifying a potentially harmful website that users’ personal information like credit cards, bank pins, among others must never be input on it.
Virustotal.com also gave out the IP address of the website as 18.104.22.168. And when scanned with ipinfo.io, a website that scan IP addresses, the IP address led us to Ashveille, North Carolina, the United States.
Based on this, there’s a possibility that either the creator or the manager of the website reside in the United States or they are in Nigeria, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tool, a system that uses code to securely access a computer in a different location via the internet, to mask the users’ locations.
Aftermath of my calls
Further exhibit emerged the same day I called some of KESEM YIB partners. With the same number I used, this number 08021900000 called me claiming it is from Airtel and wanted to ask me if my query was satisfied.
She stammers, sounding as if she was following a script. I instantly concluded, this is not from Airtel.
But I kept wondering if a staff of Airtel is part of this chain in the first place. My reason, only Airtel and GTB know my identity as Enoch Oyedibu. None of the claimed partners by KESEM YIB knew I called any of other partners. And when the number called me, it mentioned my name and my query.
Adding that I complained about a fraudulent activity of KESEM YIB… But this was false. I only complained about the possibility of fraudulent activity to GTB whistleblowing desk. I never complained about fraudulent activity to Airtel. Instead, I asked to confirm if Airtel is part of the partners of KESEM YIB program.
There are still legit Foundations
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is one of the Africa leading foundation supporting entrepreneurs with mentorship and a $5000 seed funding, every year. When asked Emmanuel Nduka who often regards himself as Elumelu Boy, it is the best thing that can ever happen to any African entrepreneurs and it doesn’t demand a dime from anyone before giving them the $5000 seed funding.
“It’s fake oooo,” Mr Nduka said, referring to KESEM YIB. “TEF don’t collect money from anyone. Besides, it doesn’t makes sense that you want to help entrepreneurs with funding and you want them to pay something first. That looks like a scam to me. If you are saying that I should pay a particular sum before you give me the money then take the sum from the money you want to give me now, is that not how it is supposed to be done?”
Many throughout Africa are already tuned in for the program, only goodness knows if they’ve paid or not.