A viral ‘forwarded-as-received’ post has been spread across WhatsApp platforms, with the accompanying claim that the federal government is giving out grants to support Nigerians.
The post with a registration link attached to it advanced that the N3 million grant only has 9540 slots available for grabs by Nigerians on a first-come, first-serve basis.
That the federal government is giving out N3million grants to support Nigerians.
Findings show that the claim is false.
Although the post did not specify the kind of grant, The ICIR visited the website through the acclaimed registration link to confirm the veracity of the claim.
The first red flag sighted by this reporter was how the ‘Bitly’ shortened link changed to “bonanzaoffers.xyz”. After gaining access to the page, another message popped up, congratulating the reporter for visiting the page and standing a chance to “benefit from the 75 billion federal government grant”.
The website went further by asking questions on why a visitor would want to apply for the grant; the amount the visitor would like to apply for; and how a visitor knows about the scheme. These questions are accompanied by varying options.
The ICIR ticked ‘start a new business’ and a verification process which took only four seconds emerged. Having been verified, another message popped up, congratulating the reporter for being “successfully shortlisted” to have access to the grant.
But for the grant to be disbursed, the website asked the reporter to share the claim to twelve WhatsApp groups or friends. This, according to the pop-up message, is to enable other Nigerians to benefit from the scheme.
However, The ICIR conducted a google search using keywords like “75 billion federal government grants” to ascertain the federal government grants initiative.
It turned out to be a post-COVID-19 stimulus package for Micros, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) termed “ MSME survival fund.”
The scheme is a product of the Economic Sustainability Committee Plan aimed at developing a plan to respond to the challenges posed by the economic shock of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The grant which is scheduled to run for an initial period of three months, starting from September 2020, is handled by the federal ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. It targets 1.7 million entities and individuals across the country, of which 45 percent of the beneficiary would be female-owned enterprises, 5 per cent for businesses owned by people living with disabilities.
Another federal government’s package of 75billion found by The ICIR during the search was the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. The initiative which is funded by the central bank of Nigeria will spread over three years to cater to youth-owned businesses and investment needs.
However, the fund is a loan package with an interest rate of 5% per annum and a tenor of 5 years with a moratorium of up to 12 months. The announcement added that an individual or non-registered business could draw up to 250,000 Naira while youth-owned registered businesses could apply for up to 3 Million Naira.
This is the arrangement the phoney website cloned when it asked for the amount an individual would like to apply for within the range from #200,000 to 3 million.
Who are the impostors?
The ICIR queried the existence of the hoax website through Whois.net to check the website domain information.
As at the time of filing this report, all forms of information always attached to any website is not available for this website in question.
However, while this check can not explicitly state who and where the website was registered, investigation shows the website was created on 08-05-2020 and scheduled to expire a year after.
Other information about the registrant of the website, such as the phone number and email are also not available.
The claim is FALSE. The website used as the conveyor belt is not only fictitious but also designed to spread false information.