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False! Atiku Abubakar not giving empowerment grants as claimed in viral WhatsApp message

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Claim: A message circulating on WhatsApp is asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar Empowerment Grant of N10,150 support fund via a website.

Findings have shown that the  message circulating on WhatsApp, asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar Empowerment Grant  of N10,150 support fund via a website, is a click bait and fraudulent.

Full Story

A viral message is making the rounds on WhatsApp, urging Nigerians to apply for the  N10,150 support fund courtesy of the former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.

The message directed readers to a free URL shortener, bit.ly.

The message reads: *ATIKU Empowerment 2021*

*Hurry Now and Check if You are Eligible to Receive N10,150 Support Fund As Part Of ATIKU Empowerment Grant.*

_This Grant Is Available To All Nigerians_ 

_Apply Here_

bit.ly/ATIKU-YOUTH-EMPOWERMENT”

Screenshot of  Post

Verification

First of all, the message contained grammatical errors and  irregular capitalisation of certain letters that cast doubts on its authenticity.

Dubawa provided a wrong name, state, gmail, phone number in order to access the other pages of the form and it redirected this reporter to a new page.

The second page reads: “Congratulations

You have been selected to benefit from the support Fund Payment provided by ATIKU FOUNDATION. [1]

[1] Answer the following three questions to benefit immediately!

What is your Employment Status?

What Is Your Marital Status?

Choose Your Age Range?” 

Screenshots of website

This reporter was thereafter asked to share the information with 15 friends or five groups in order to get the application letter, and under the message beneficiaries were seen testifying on how real the project is.

The notification reads: “After considering your answers, your support fund amount is set to N100,000 and complete the steps to obtain the withdrawal code from the electronic counter

-You may get the support fund with only one step, kindly click the “Invite Friends/Group” button below to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so That They Can Also Benefit.

Share it until the blue bar is full!

-After sending the invitation, click the “Get withdrawal code” button:

Note: If you do not complete this step correctly, you will not get the Support Fund every Week.”

A screenshot of the page asking users to share information

An analysis with Domainbigdata, a web tool used to look for the website ownership, revealed that the website has hidden information and the IP address also shows it has been reported several times for abuses, fraud, and attacks.

Screenshot of Domainbigdata result

Dubawa also observed that every visit to the website during this search in the last few days, there was a banner reading “This Offer Is Available Till 30th AUGUST 2021 So Far, 113624 Nigerians Have Benefited From This Offer. You Can Also Benefit. Apply Now and Follow Instructions”,  while the countdown was reading, creating a sense of urgency.

Screenshot of warning banner

So Dubawa conducted a word search on the Atiku empowerment, and it shows that the former Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar  has dissociated himself from the Atiku Foundation Youth Empowerment Fund, thereby urging Nigerians to disregard any fraudulent message from the platform.

Atiku debunked the claim through his spokesperson, Paul Ibe, on the Atiku Care Foundation – Legal Department page on Facebook, on the 13th of July.

In his words “We warn supporters of Atiku Abubakar and the general public not to patronize any portal called Atiku Foundation for Youth Empowerment.”

Since Dubawa has fact checked several websites with similar profile, Dubawa decided to consult a techie, the founder, Zhibodigital Web Solutions, Joey Shekwonuzhibo,  to understand the reappearance of the website  in different forms, who said that URL shortener is used to make the address of a web shorter, examples are: (bit.ly, tinyURL, bl.ink, short.io, shorby, sniply) and the likes.

“These links that are shortened could be misleading and if you’re not careful, you’d fall prey, sometimes, people use it for click bait, but it can be used for data analysis, on any of the link shortener sites, they give you analytics of how many people clicked, their devices, location, gage range all” Shekwonuzhibo added

He went on to advise the public to use a website checker, Google or random word search to verify credible websites.

Conclusion

Verification has shown that the  message circulating on WhatsApp, asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar empowerment grant  of N10,150 support fund, via a website is fraudulent and misleading.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the 2021 Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Fellowship partnership with JAY 101.9 FM Jos to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country

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