Former Nollywood child actor, Williams Uchemba, has denied claims of fraud against him after messages of him requesting money to arrange a delegation to a United Nations youth event in the United States went viral on Sunday.
A US-based Nigerian human rights activist, Edafe Okporo, had shared a screenshot of a supposed chat thread with Uchemba in which the former child actor allegedly said, “I will need three things from you: passport data page, email address and registration fee ($1,000). After payment is confirmed, I will then send you a questionnaire for you to fill and send back.
“The $1,000 covers for your United Nations invitation letter (which is what you will take to the embassy and the UN will also send a copy to the embassy) which is also registration and admission into the UN HQ, your training materials and certificate from the United Nations, your US visa process and filling of your DA-160 (online form).”
Following queries made on social media, United Nations Youth Envoy, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, who is an aide to the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, said Uchemba was unknown to the organisation.
But Uchemba, in a series of videos on Instagram, disowned a Twitter account in his name as that of a known fraudster.
The former child star said he had warned his followers in May about people impersonating him and that he did not know how to stop impersonators.
He said, “First of all, I have said it tons of times, ‘Be careful with scammers.’ I have posted a lot of pictures of people using my name to defraud people. I have reported a lot of accounts.
“As a matter of fact, there is a guy on Twitter. I’m not on Twitter; I have never had a Twitter account. He has 15,000 followers posing to be me. His name is Williams Uchemba and a lot of people he has defrauded have called me to say, ‘There is somebody using that (name)’ and I don’t know what to do about that.
“Secondly, let me also state again that I’m the Deputy Nigerian Youth Representative, Youth Assembly at the United Nations, not ‘UN ambassador in the United Nations.’ These are different bodies. The people that organise the youth assembly are the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation.”
In the bio section of Uchemba’s verified Instagram, however, he is described as “Nigerian Youth Rep Youth Assembly at the UN.”
He added, “If you are aware of what is happening in Nigeria, there have not been appointment dates in the US embassy. If you check now you’ll be seeing April and the conference is in February. Some of the people we registered the last time couldn’t get appointments.
“In fact, the last one was horrible because nobody could go to the embassy. So we have a lot of delegates pending because we’ve sent their names for their invitation letters and they cannot go to the embassy for visas.”
According to him, after consideration, he decided he was not going to put his aspiring delegates through as usual, opting to register only people with visa, which he said was the original plan.
Uchemba added, “Now, some guy tagged me and I saw it and was shocked. I’ve never met him. He was never my delegate. He said, ‘Williams, you’re a scammer.’ I said, ‘Oga, why are you calling me out? I don’t even know you. What have I done to you?’
“He said, ‘People said.’ And I said, ‘But you didn’t even ask me.’ If you had come to ask me, ‘Why is this charge like this?’ I would have explained to you. I’m not the US embassy; I don’t give visa. When people come and say, ‘Williams, after we get the invitation and you put us through, is the visa guaranteed?’ and I say no.
“So, you can either do it yourself or we have people. The reason people pay that amount is that we employ people to do these things. We pay them. So, it is very disheartening for this information to get out without proper investigation.”
The former actor further explained that he had never heard of the Office of the UN Youth Envoy until the allegations of fraud were made against him.