Zuma Cash, a fast loan company, has admitted defaming its defaulting customers by sending defamatory messages to their phone contacts, calling them pedophiles and promiscuous.
A Zuma Cash agent, who requested anonymity, confirmed to FIJ that the company accesses these customers’ contact details and then sends these messages to them via WhatsApp.
In an interview with our reporter, the agent also confirmed that these messages are sent with the support and approval of the company’s legal department.
“It’s our legal department that sends messages. There is a number over there and a face over there,” this agent told our reporter.
“They send a number, a BVN and a photo, so if you know the person, you can call them.
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“It’s not me who sends the messages; our legal department sends them.
When FIJ requested access to someone from this “legal department”, the agent ended the call.
The final defamatory message that led to the interview was sent to the phone contacts of Abiodun Fagbemi (name changed), a client who failed to repay his loan in May.
Fagbemi had borrowed 11,000 naira from the company on May 15, with the promise to repay 17,000 naira on May 22.
On May 24, he told this agent that he was trying to reimburse but could not find a bank account number to pay to.
“There was no account number I could repay the loan on and there was also no network in the area I was in. When they called me I told them that I I wasn’t in a place where I could do anything,” Fagbemi told IFJ.
“The defamatory messages arrived two days after the due date.”
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The defamatory messages sent by the company contained Fagbemi’s photo and a message describing him as a “fraudster and child rapist”.
“He is wanted by the police for sexual harassment [sic] and the rape of minor children. He is a wanted rapist and should be reported to the police station or nearby authorities,” the post read.
The agent further sent “evidence” of previous defamatory actions taken against other alleged defaulters” to Fagbemi’s contacts.
“This married woman slept with neighbours, friends and co-workers at her place of work, even the only child she gave birth to was not from her husband,” one of the earlier posts that was used to defame a lady who also owed society read.
“Please all married women, watch your husbands because your husband might be next in line. She’s doing the trick.
Further investigations by the IFJ revealed that the agent had made more than 2,556 phone calls to multiple numbers in the past 60 days, a figure that equates to around 42 calls per day.
The number had also been reported for harassment to Truecaller, a phone app with caller ID features, by 76 people in the past.