The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has raised alarm over a recent surge in the activities of fraudsters impersonating the Fund.

In a statement on Monday by the fund’s Acting Director, Public Affairs, Abdulmumin Oniyangi, for the Executive Secretary, it said the fund has “witnessed a surge in the activities of fraudulent individuals and groups who devise all sorts of means to defraud stakeholders and unsuspecting members of the public in the name of the Fund.

“Also prevalent is the attempt by certain individuals and groups to malign the leadership of the Fund and disrupt its activities over Management’s determination not to succumb to frivolous requests which are grossly in violation of the Agency’s mandate.

“Some of the antics employed by these individuals and groups include allegations of contract fraud and procurement racketeering”, it said.

The Fund, however said, “What could be considered as the first attempt or springboard aimed at maligning the current leadership of the Fund came to light via a publication by Sahara Reporters dated 20th July 2022 titled “Disquiet in Nigeria Education Agency, TETFund over Contracts Fraud, Procurement Racketeering, Others under New Head, Sonny Echono.

“These spurious and unfounded allegations which came up barely four months after the assumption of office of the Executive Secretary were addressed by the Fund in a Press Release titled “Corruption Fights Back as Echono Implements Sweeping Reforms” issued on 22nd July 2022.

“Suffice it to say that the allegations were not only proved to be lacking in merit but discovered to have been sponsored by self-seeking individuals/groups who felt aggrieved at the sweeping reforms introduced to eliminate corruption and promote accountability at the Fund” it said.

“Despite addressing Sahara Reporters’ unfounded publication, certain individuals/groups who have sought all forms of unholy sponsorship, support, and patronage from the Fund, but denied, have continued to come up under different guises, alleging corruption at the Fund, “copying and pasting” same spurious information contained in Sahara Reporters’ publication.”

TETFund also said another way it was being maligned was through allegations of “forgery of Special intervention approval Letters.”

TETFund has received reports of fake Special Intervention Approval Letters which are presented to Heads of Beneficiary Institutions by fraudulent individuals who claim to represent the interest of the Fund. Heads of institutions have been cautioned to beware of this practice and verify all transactions directly from TETFund. Security agencies have also been informed and some arrests were made including an ongoing prosecution.

“The Fund has also received various reports about the activities of some nefarious individuals/groups who attempt to commit fraud using the name and profile of the Executive Secretary in operating fake social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter amongst others with claims of providing opportunities of TETFund procurement jobs to unsuspecting members of the public. We have repeatedly and consistently warned members of the public that the Executive Secretary is not on any of these social media platforms and does not transact any kind of business on them”.

It further read, “There have also been reports of fraudulent claims of payment of grants and award of scholarships to Nigerian Students. This is usually circulated on social media platforms with a link that directs victims to fraudulent websites. It is also intended to create disaffection among students towards the Fund”.

Reports of fake employment opportunities advertised online have also become rampant and the Fund has been active in dispelling such.

“It is important to state that TETFund has been established as an international brand with two countries currently understudying its system and processes. Ghana has since adopted the same model with the establishment of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The Fund has entered into 11 international partnership agreements and been appointed into global knowledge-based institutions spanning Research, Innovation, and funding models.

“Considering the giant strides and positive contributions of the Fund towards national development, therefore, it is a great disservice to the country for faceless, self-serving and malevolent interlopers to attempt to discredit the Agency through false, baseless, and unfounded allegations.

“While calling on security agencies to intensify their efforts in curbing this ugly trend by tracking down these criminal elements and bringing them to justice, TETFund shall remain open and transparent in all its operations and will be willing at all times to provide the information requested by genuine stakeholders through appropriate channels.

“Once again, we use this medium to assure our esteemed stakeholders and the general public that we shall remain focused, more so that we are encouraged by the positive feedback from our stakeholders. There will be no let-off in our effort to constantly improve efficiency and sustain the fund’s reputation as a role model intervention agency”, It added.