For a while now, i have waged a relentless war against fraudulent land sellers called Omoniles especially in those in Lagos and have tried to expose all their deceitful practices to dupe people off their hard earned money.
But today I'm going to change course to raise awareness on another way people are being duped concerning landed issues and this particular kind of Land Scam is dedicated to our Brothers and Sisters Abroad slaving themselves to send money back home to their family members to help them purchase a land or build houses on their behalf only to finally come back home to see that the money they have sent back home has either being squandered stupidly, spent recklessly and the money has being used to develop THEIR OWN PROPERTY INSTEAD OF YOURS or simply that the Money has vanished into Thin Air.
In most situations where this family embezzlement has occurred, there neither will be no land purchased by the family member that was sent money to help buy the land.
Even if the land was purchased, no due diligence was carried out as per se as to validate the authenticity of the land or the description of the land given to the person abroad is totally different from what has been purchased.
I have heard cries of people coming home to see lands that have being purchased for them located inside the bush that is only fit for Monkeys to occupy. Some complain that their families buy extremely water logged lands that will make them spend so much money to sand fill.
I have also heard of the ones that those kind of lands that the Omoniles will continue to drain the pockets of the person due to silly community fees that they are not conversant about until they give up the land.
My favourite is always hearing stories of lands purchased by a family member that they cannot locate afterwards and the buyer is going about holding a receipt of a land that he cannot verify.
In fact there are so many personal examples and stories that i know off head that i will spare loads of Omonile Lawyer readers the bad memories they might have encountered in the hands of family members whom they put their trust into but have failed them bitterly.
Who do you blame? Your family member? The Seller of the defect Land or yourself?
Recently i read an article in the punch newspaper with regards to this issue and you can read it here too: http://www.punchng.com/metro/prophetess-arrested-for-n5m-passport-land-fraud/ and the major part that caught my eye in the whole story was this:
“Charles said he also sent N3.5m to her to buy a piece of land for him but she embezzled the money”
What i will attempt to do here is to help you prevent such a thing happening to you again if you were once a victim and if you’re about to venture into such a thing, learn from these points to safe guard your money from family or friends you don't trust to give money to assist you with a project.
Points to keep you safe
1. Always Know what you intend to buy. Don't buy any land based on Internet Pictures Only. We live in a digital age. Tell the family member to compel the Seller or Agent to make a Video recording of the WHOLE AREA IN QUESTION.
Don't just settle for the Video of the Land only. Let them video the surrounding streets, easements, accompanying houses or landmarks etc so you can make an Informed decision whether it is a place you intend to buy.
The first line of any kind of fraud in this instance comes from not knowing where the land is located and how it looks.
I have heard of so many people gist with Nigerians abroad that they should send money to buy land because Nigeria is improving and things are getting better.
They tell them about the beautiful houses in Lekki and try to convince them that you should buy a land in Lekki but the Land they are inducing them to buy is located in Ibeju Lekki which a totally different area from Lekki itself and the dubious Family member ends up convincing the person abroad to just throw away money to purchase one bushy area that won’t see any development in the next 20 years.
Please be firm and know what you intend to buy so that your relative won’t push you around to buy what you really don’t know about.
2. Also when you send money to that relative or friend, always send it through a well known registered courier that can document how the money passed through with enough evidence as per the time, date and venue the money was received.
Most times i see people abroad send the odd cash of $3000 here or $5000 there etc. These monies have no evidence to back it up and it opens a channel for a plethora of excuses in case the money is to be embezzled because it has no track record of money received and when the person collects the money always ask for the proof of money received.
3. Remember this, When it comes to land matters and money for YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE, there is nothing like being too respectful or keeping quiet or assuming because you're the same blood , you will leave everything in their own discretion.
It’s your money and it’s your land or house and you should control everything 100% how it should be used and how the house should turn out to be. Put yourself in this position as if you're in Nigeria personally to monitor it.
Would you be waiting for instructions from your Aunty abroad to guide you on how to spend your money? Or won't you take decisive action to handle your business? Don't for one moment be afraid to ask about your money at any given time or how it’s being spent.
If you keep quiet, please be rest assured that part of your money is flying around in one pepper soup joint somewhere in Nigeria.
4. Another key point is to always involve other parties in the buying process that are totally alien to the person that you sent money to. Make them aware that you have sent money to that person so that they can keep tabs of the person and give you periodic reports.
If It’s your Sister you gave money to, tell a colleague or friend of yours that you trust to follow up on it and to remind her about the day she is going to see the land on your behalf.
The fact that both of them are not close or share any blood covenant will not make them connive at your back to split the money or bring up one Cock and Bull story to embezzle your money.
5. Also contact a Lawyer and a Surveyor beforehand about the transaction and intimate them about their roles to handle the transaction for you legally by first confirming whether the land is a good land to be bought first and foremost and to provide all legal documentations and the surveyor to do a proper survey plan.
Trust me if the lawyer or surveyor have not been paid or don't know the land, they will scream out loud and you will know something is going on.
6. On the day of the transaction, you should know the date and time so that you will be on conference call with all parties to know what’s going on. Don't feign ignorance or say 'UNCLE SULE' will handle it.
Make sure you speak to all parties and the Seller personally and offer your felicitations or promise to settle them when you come. If money hasn't been properly shared to the right channels, they will let you know and you will discover where the problem is coming from.
7. Make sure when they buy the land on your behalf they take physical possession of the Land by snapping pictures and surrounding themselves with all the parties to the transaction so as to identify your land.
Make sure the sellers are there and the set of pictures showing they received the money is included as evidence before Omoniles come back and say no money touched their hands.
8. Finally after all said and done, when the land has been bought and all loop holes have been covered and nobody has embezzled your money, please try and put a small fence there or something and put one MAI GUARD there to look after it till you come.
Make sure you repeat the same process when sending money to fence the place and don't say because the last transaction was successful, so therefore the next one you intend to send will be free of family or friend embezzlement. If you drop down your guard you might regret your actions later.
To all our brothers and sisters abroad working hard to provide for a better future for your families over there and abroad, may such misfortune of bad family members or colleagues you trust to buy land for you on your behalf in Nigeria never befall you!