The Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Friday updated investors in the capital market and the general public on recent trends in Capital Market related fraud.
Until recently, Capital Market scams usually involved transfer of shares from one Stock broking house to another one of the syndicate fraudster’s choice where the shares are fraudulently sold without the knowledge of the real owner.
The new trend, according to a statement by the commission, involves stealing of share certificates and dividend warrants, which are then cleared through a fraudulent bank account opened in the name of the original owner, especially accounts which have been dormant for a long period as well as shares of deceased investors.
According to Adesola Kolawole Amusan, Head, Capital Market and Insurance Unit, EFCC, “this fraud is carried out in connivance with a syndicate at Nigerian Stock Exchange/Central Securities Clearing System and Registrars of the Companies whose shares are traded.
“Sometimes the scammers lodge the cheques issued to them by the stock broking firms and clear them through Microfinance banks. The Microfinance banks are currently being used by these fraudsters because they are not yet compliant with the Bank Verification Number system,” the statement added.
In recent times, one of the new modes of fraud in the Capital Market is Portfolio Management Scams. Under this method, the investor is persuaded to release his shares to the stock broking firm hoping to receive the promised returns which the stock broking firm may not honour.
Meanwhile all the shares of the investor will be sold by the stock broking firm and the proceeds used for other personal interest, making it difficult for the stock broking firm to buy back the shares for the investor when required.
This is similar to Ponzi Schemes in which the fraudster promises their target huge returns as interest on their money. The only difference is that under Portfolio Management, the investors’ releases his/her shares to be sold by the stock broker, while in a pure ponzi scheme, cash is paid to the fraudster.
Shedding more light on these scams, Amusan strongly recommended that members of the public should regularly log into the websites of Nigerian Stock Exchange – NSE(www.nigeriastockexchange.com), Securities and Exchange Commission – SEC (www.sec.gov.ng), and Central Securities Clearing System – CSCS(www.cscsnigeria.com) to verify the status of any Stock Broking Firm whether the firm is registered or under suspension, before subscribing to any of their offers.
Furthermore, he warned investors not to give their money to any individual or company that promises to turn such around within a short period, while guaranteeing to pay huge returns in excess of the average returns in the financial system.
He also advised the shareholders to obtain and fill a trade alert form with the CSCS which will enable them to receive “alerts” any time there is a transaction on their stock broking accounts.
Amusan appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider bringing Micro Finance Banks to comply with the Bank Verification Number (BVN) scheme so as to curtail fraud still being perpetrated through them so as to bring an end to the practice of fraudulent clearing of cheques.