Ruth Gede, a 32-year-old lady based in Badagry, Lagos, has been falsely labelled HIV/AIDS positive by DELOAN, a loan-giving firm, for failing to pay back the amount she collected on the agreed date.
Gede on January 26, 2022, collected a N10,000 loan to attend to some urgent needs and was supposed to have paid back N14,500 one week later to the lender but was unable to do so due to financial constraints.
A day after she defaulted on payment, she started receiving different threat messages from DELOAN on her mobile number.
Apart from threatening to post her photograph and full names on various social media platforms that she was HIV/AIDS positive and planning to infect members of the public, DELOAN also vowed to send defamatory messages to all persons on her phone contact list unless she paid the money immediately.
Shortly after that period, the firm made good its threat by sending a photo of Gede with "wanted" boldly written on it to some persons on her phone contact list while also vowing to tarnish her image through various other means.
All pleas by the young lady for DELOAN to give her two weeks to make full payment including accrued interest were rebuffed by the firm.
Gede has been getting more threat messages from the firm since that period.
"It's almost 11:47pm and your payment has not been made. The system will forward messages to 50 of your contacts along with this message: This is to inform the general public that (your name with phone number) has tested positive to HIV/AIDS and escaped from the healthcare facility with the mindset of infecting the public.
"Kindly avoid her and contact the nearest police station or healthcare center so she can be apprehended and taken back to the care center.
"If your payment is not seen before 3pm, don't say you were not told and don't dare us," a message from DELOAN to Gede read.
Another threat message from DELOAN to the young lady read, "Can’t you use your head for once. Imagine going through all the embarrassment, shame and your reputation being destroyed, not just yours but that of your family, your photo posted as criminal and after all that, you will be auto-debited double what you are meant to pay, imagine that.
"Can’t you use your common sense for once and avoid falling victim to something that will make you lose your integrity and reputation.
"Think for once, the implications and consequences are nothing short of how criminals are being treated, don't make these people destroy your life and render you penniless just for a little amount of money, feel pity for your family, an everlasting stain that can never be washed off.
"I am feeling pity for you already because I know the grave negativity this will bring to you, you will easily lose your job and everything you hold dear."
Speaking with SaharaReporters on the development, Gede said that though she would have loved to press charges against DELOAN, the firm was faceless and had no known address from where they operated from.
According to her, she came across the loan-giving firm on WhatsApp and decided to give them a try.
Less than five minutes after she downloaded their app and was granted access to her photos, contact list and other important files, she got the N10,000 loan from DELOAN.
However, looking back several weeks later, Gede said it was a huge mistake to have approached the firm for the financial facility going by how much they had defamed her already.
"This is one of the worst defamatory messages ever.
"Despite pleading with them to give me two weeks to settle the loan, they refused and instead decided to defame me.
"They have been sending different messages to those on my contact list since they have access to it.
"They are faceless, so how can one even press charges against them.
"But I am not bothered by their antics. I know I will pay them their money," she said.
Earlier in January, DELOAN was accused of declaring defaulters dead by sharing posters of their obituaries to family and friends.
The incident led to public outrage with government urged to look into the activities of loan sharks before the situation gets out of hand.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, while reacting to the development, revealed that regulators in the financial system were working to tackle the menace.
“Continuing complaints about questionable repayment enforcement practices including public shaming and violations of privacy, arbitrary, unjust, unreasonable, or exploitative interest rates and or loan balances calculations, harassment, and failure of consumer feedback mechanisms among others have led to significant and understandable consumer aggravation and dissatisfaction.
"There are efforts to address multiple potentially dubious conduct of certain money lenders, otherwise known as loan sharks," he said.