Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
The Foundation for the Defence of Consumer Rights (FODCOR) has petitioned the duo of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the fraudulent activities of a travel agency, which was alleged to have defrauded unsuspecting Nigerians to the tune of over N70 million. The allegation came from the group during a protest match to both agencies in Abuja against the VIP Express Tourism Limited.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Paul Edeh said that the dubious company claims to provide tourism services to Nigerians by providing holiday vacation accommodation to them at resorts in some designated countries. According to him, the agency sends marketers to filing stations, airports, hotels, supermarkets and other public places where they lure unsuspecting Nigerians to watch documented videos before making them apply for the overseas vacation.
Edeh said that prior to the presentations, their marketers would inform the applicants that their package includes assisting them in processing visas to the designated countries they plan to go for vacation. One of the victims, Louis Okpe, a staff of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), narrated his ordeal. “I was invited on phone.
One of their workers named Gloria called me and said that somebody introduced me in their club, and that I should come and pick my ticket and go to South Africa. “And my visa too, by the time I got there they said I should wait for presentation, after which they said we should pay some amount of money to qualify us as members of VIP Express Tourism Limited, which paid, in fact they had to force me to pay that night.
Somebody followed me to my house, and I issued a cheque of N140,250 that night and also issued six post dated cheques, each amounting to N54,338 that night. “Subsequently, they withdrew twice and that was when my eyes opened. Because each time they withdrew, I asked for my receipt, but they never gave me any receipt. Their staff called consultant Gabriel Abu was the one who collected the cheques from me.
The visa they promised me to South Africa they never gave,” Okpe narrated. Another victim, Rev. Kingsley Nwachukwu, said he played into the hands of the fraudsters in 2013, but by the time he realised what they were into it was too late for him. “The truth of the matter was that there was a deceptive strategy employed by VIP to defraud Nigerians and number one in 2013, I was invited to Protea Hotel to attend a presentation and my consultant that spoke me into making the payment of N382, 500.