How US Scholarship Fundraising Landed On Online Loan Sharks


Akin Alabi* came to his family of seven on a very early Sunday morning in December 2021.

The fact that he came at such a time as 6am on Sunday – and not on any other day – was quite suspicious and shocking to his nuclear family of six boys and one girl.

In the crowded, rent-controlled, multi-tenant single room, Akin managed floor space, making sure everyone listened.

“You are the only family I have,” he began. “I’m sorry to bother you and take your time, but I would appreciate you all giving me some listening ears.”

He’d looked skinny in the two months, grumpy, his father noted, with a mixture of grief, guilt, and not giving to his family, being the eldest, all on his beardless face.

“You’re the only one I have left. Now I know the value of family.

“I want to tell you that this scholarship offer really pushed me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I wouldn’t have accepted the offer in the first place if I had known it was going to be like this,” Akin lamented.

“From the first day I got the scholarship offer,” he continued, “it’s been money here and there. From mom’s younger brother’s wife to my co-workers and my few friends, I’ve gone so far as to borrow money, grossly in debt.

“I am actually under threat of arrest now because I have not been able to repay the money. I would appreciate your supporting me as little as possible to clear this debt hanging around my neck.

As if to back up his impassioned plea, Akin, 31, showed Tayo*, the fifth child, a visa scholarship document, which was later passed by Bimpe*, the one and only second daughter in the family.

He did, however, show Tayo in particular a few online platforms he had borrowed money from.


It all started in September 2021, when Akin was informed of a scholarship opportunity by his then professor at the University of Lagos.

The lecturer, now head of department, told Akin to make photocopies of his necessary documents. The HOD said the New York School Scholarship is for the top five graduating students and Akin, the top graduating student of 2015, was one of them.

“I will give you what will give you food forever,” the HOD told Akin literally in the Yoruba language over the phone.

“Ayo*, Tayo, Bimpe, Ola*, y’all heard it,” dad Akin* said.

“You heard what your older brother said. If it’s good for him today, it’s good for all of us.

“Every good thing has its challenges. I saw someone go through the same thing your brother is going through, and at the end of it all, it was just joy. Give all we can afford.

Bimpe complained that he loaned Akin N40,000 and that other siblings should do something; Tayo pulled out his phone and transferred N20,000; Ayo promised something during the week (later gave 10,000 naira); Ola headed to the point of sale (PoS) to withdraw N11,000.


From January 2022 until today, mom and dad Akin have received a series of calls threatening arrest if their son Akin refuses to meet the payment deadline.

Frequently, as she received the calls, Mom Akin would tell Akin about it, but tell him not to worry about it. She bought into the idea that it might have been one of 419, until the calls persisted under pressure – and she told her husband.

Meanwhile, Akin had, as early as April, been summoned and dismissed by his boss, following the text messages he had received calling Akin “fraud on the Internet”. Added to this are his friends: some of them urge him to pay back the money, others abandon him.

Akin said he borrowed heavily from various online platforms and it is the people who are clamoring for their money.

“But last time I asked him, he said he only owed about N300,000. Now he is talking about N500,000. It might even be more than that,” explained his dad.


On Saturday, September 17, Ayo received a WhatsApp message from a number ‘****4097’. The sender used a default timer for all messages to disappear within 24 hours.

The message, from Deloan Company, clearly states Akin Alabi’s address, date of birth, citizen and phone number.

Under the “NB” section, the message reads in part: “Call the person in this report to remove/detach your details from the online registration they made with Deloan Company Limited.”

The threat or terror message terrified Ayo not only because if he didn’t call his brother, he “would be arrested until the matter is resolved”, but because that same brother had it without claim strategically ripped off his hard-earned 50,000 naira.

Akin had told Ayo that his friend wanted to sell his laptop urgently. At the time, in March 2021, Ayo was managing a Samsung “television” system.

It was a Sunday evening but Ayo promised that the transfer of N50,000 would be done the following Monday morning.

It was a “TV” system itself, but quite expensive in terms of RAM and GB.

“All you have to do is buy a battery. You can go try it out,” Akin said.

The system only lasted one day with Ayo as he received a call from Tayo (but Akin speaking) informing him that his uncle’s friend wanted the laptop back.

“They are here now. They said they would arrest me if I didn’t provide the laptop. His uncle said he didn’t tell him to sell the laptop and even if he wanted to sell it, not for 50,000 naira,” Akin said.

In his agitated state, Ayo told him to take the laptop, only to regret a few minutes later asking for the money.

The threatening message he has now received puts him in a bit of a disturbing state of terror and trauma.

“You can’t believe Akin just tricked me. It really hurts me right now. I wish I had been there when all this was happening. I was busy with work and it altered my decision-making mental state,” Ayo told Tayo.

Akin’s mother, who spoke with the caller on the phone on September 21, is verifying what particular amount Akin still owes them. She learned that Akin still owes Deloan Company N17,000.


Ayo later learned that Akin was now a wanted public figure “for allegedly getting away with Deloan Company money”.

Reluctantly, he passed the messages on to his older brother Akin on September 18.

While apologizing, Akin said it was one of the few online lending companies to settle.

“They have access to the contacts on my phone,” he explained. “They make this mess so you despair of paying. Or if even if you do not pay, they took revenge for the fact that you “tarnished” your image.

At 7:20 p.m., Akin turned around to talk more physically to Ayo about the issue.

“If I hadn’t robbed Pierre to pay Paul, I would have erased all the debt. I cyclically had to pay for another. I realized that wasn’t helping, so I decided to focus on one at a time,” Akin explained.

“I had sent a note to the customer helpline explaining the status of things and when I would be able to pay the full money, only to get a call desperately asking me to pay the money immediately, otherwise I would be arrested or killed.

“I told him I could only pay the money on September 29, but he would not accept any form of plea and appeal.”

Nearly a week after the deadline he set for himself, Akin still hasn’t paid. Worse still, he has no immediate hope of clearing the loan debts.

*Names have been changed to protect identities


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