Few weeks after Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo launched the Trader Moni scheme across markets in Lagos State, criminals have devised means to scam unsuspecting persons interested in the scheme.

Trader Moni is part of the Federal Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP), and it is aimed at giving soft loans to petty traders and artisans across the country.

The loan ranges between N10,000 and N50,000.

As a starter, a person is eligible to access N10,000 and pay back N10,250. After the completion of the payment, the person is then eligible to further access N15,000 and pay back N15,350.

Once this is done, the trader will further qualify for N20,000 and pay back N21,000. After the payment of N21,000, he/she is qualified to access the loan of N50,000.

Full payments for each of the stages is expected to be completed within six months.

Two million petty traders are targeted to benefit from the loan in all the states of the federation.

The Bank of Industry (BoI), which is deploying the new scheme to identify the beneficiaries after their registration, has engaged about 4, 000 agents for the exercise.

However, persons who are perceived to be conversant with the process are allegedly taking advantage of the poor public to extort money from traders in the pretext of helping them access their share of the federal government money.

These criminals hiding under the guise of helping unsuspecting residents register for the scheme have perfected ways to swindle them.

Osinbajo during the launch ofTrader Moni in Lagos

The criminals,Bounce News gathered, visit their targets in their homes, markets and places of business to show photos of the visit of the Vice President and his entourage to markets in the state while promoting the scheme.

They will further show forms meant for use in registering the applicants before asking them to pay the sum of N2,000 for them to be registered under the scheme.

One of the victims, Abike Owonifari, who spoke with our correspondent said she registered for the scheme through a self acclaimed agent that collected N2,000 on November 2nd.

She said the agent, who she simply identified himself as John, came to her stand at the Oshodi market and convinced her to key into the scheme.

She stated that after collecting N2000 from her, John took her data and photograph, and promised to get back to her the following day on the status of her registration.

She, however, said the agent has not shown up in the market since he collected the money from her and others in the market.

She said, “I heard about the scheme from a family member, that the federal government was sharing the sum of N10, 000 to market women. I was told that one will apply through one of the agents employed by the government.

"I was happy when John came to our market to register petty traders interested in taking the loan.

''About 50 traders that I know registered with him but since he collected our N2,000, he has not visited the market again."

Another victim of the scam, Omotola Shodunke said she knew they were scammed when one of her friends who had collected the loan later told her that she did not pay a dime to access the loan.

Trader Moni agent

However,  luck ran out for some of the scammers as they were arrested by some officials of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corp (LNSC).

According to an official of LNSC in Ifako-Ijaiye, Ahmed Akanni, three suspects were arrested last week for swindling residents of the community of their monies to register them under the scheme.

“The suspects have perfected the crime. They visited some aged women promoting the scheme to them that they can get between N10,000 and N20,000 to help their businesses. They will, in turn, take photos and promise to register these people after collecting the sum of N2,000 from them,” the officer revealed.

“The suspects went as far as buying yams, packs of noodles, salt, and biscuits that they use in registering people. They will ask those who don’t have wares yet to pose beside the items and will then promise to register them for Trader Moni.

“The three persons behind the criminal activity were arrested along Alamutu axis of Ifako-Ijaiye when a concerned resident informed one of our officers on patrol. The suspects were rounded up and they confessed to the crime. We handed them over to the Area G Police Division in Ogba, for further investigation and prosecution,” the official concluded.

He urged residents, especially traders, to be wary of these criminals and to swiftly report such developments to security agencies for prompt action.

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