I almost fell for this scam, my experience your lesson (be guided)
Online scams – I once thought whoever falls for a scammer should be considered a fool or a bloody greedy fellow, as true as that sounds, I however re-align this personal theory after I had what I could refer to an encounter with a near smart/perfect scammer of our generation.
It all started like a joke, I was skeptical at first, in the middle of nowhere I almost got swept off, then gradually I was back to my senses, though finally played along.
The scammer however had a very disappointing end.
The essence of every scam adventure is to take you unawares, bore a hole into your pocket then possibly swindle you off your hard earned money without suspecting a thing.
It was on a faithful Sunday afternoon, I was doing my routine browsing, conducting a research on a topic I intend writing about, suddenly I got a beep on my Facebook messenger.
I checked it out, it was a friend request from a lady aged about 45-50-year old particularly of the U.S. decent as acclaimed by her information I thought I screened enough to accept her friend request.
Little did I know there was much to it than just meets the ordinary eyes.
I usually do not accept friend request from strangers, but I’ve had a course to land businesses in the past from strangers across Europe, Asia, Africa and America being a professional blogger, writer and content strategist. I’ve had a handful of most of these contacts from Facebook and other social media I have active presence on.
So accepting her acclaimed request came with minimal suspicion that was how the “HE” behind the “SHE” crawled into my sacred inbox (chai).
In case you are still a doubting “Thomas,”online scams exist, they are real. Let’s fast-forward to the real deal.
In plane terms, it was actually a guy that disguised himself as a lady in this encounter that was why I used the “HE” behind the “SHE.” So all through the course of this writing I will be referring to the scammer as “He.”
Having accepted the friend request, the following conversation ensued between us barely 30 minutes later.
He: Thank you for being friends!
Me: My delights.
He: I’m Diana Stewart, from the States……. where are you please?
Me: I’m Raphael from Nigeria
He: Oh! …..
He: Nothing really, was excited about your origin… It feels cool…
Me: I think something informed your exclamation, I’m too old to be fooled (was infuriated, already had my suspicion about the Nigerian identity syndrome)
He: It’s nothing….please….
Me: I insist there’s more to your exclamation, you lying to me on the aftermath is rather unfortunate….
Me: Spill it… I’m all ears
He: OK, was actually worried about your country (Nigeria)…. I’ve heard a lot about them, always on the news for internet scams and……
Me: (I was as good as my guess), really….. Have you been scammed by a Nigerian?
He: Not really, buh……
Me: But what?
He: My daughter has been a victim… It was such an awful experience…
Me: Are there no scammers in the States?
He: Never heard of it….
Me: Really…….. You mean there aren’t incidents of crime in the States ever?
He: Well, there are…..
Me: On this note, is everybody in the U.S. a scammer?
Me: So what made you think every Nigerian is a scammer? (I was already going haywire)
He: I’m sorry about that then, now I’ve met a genuine Nigerian…
Me: Your perception pieces me off……
He: I’m so sorry about that please, I never meant it to be….
Me: I’m an honest Nigerian with genuine identity, I have zero tolerance for crime, not a scammer, not a swindler…..so you get your acts right and be in the most accepted frame of mind.
He: Now I know there are honest Nigerians, thank you for being my friend Raphael.
Me: That’s by-the-way…… So why did you send me a friend request?
He: Actually doing a project on African culture, would have love to travel to Africa and meet people myself, but my insurance company wouldn’t allow me do that.
Me: What is the nature of this project exactly?
He: If I have my way, I would travel to Nigeria…… It involves taking integral pictures of remote African settings, its culture and way of life.
Don’t know if your schedule would allow you help out with this task. Like I said, my insurance company refused the move and I really need someone to help me out.
Me: That’s serious, I’m such a busy man with tight schedule….. It’s such a herculean one for someone like me….. Nevertheless let me see how it goes…. (I was willing to help…)
He: …. Are you saying you can help me?
Me: I will try…… It won’t be easy but…….
He: (he was so excited)…. Thank you very much…… I feel so relieved right now Raphael….
Me: It’s nothing……. I will just do my best….
He: Ok…. Will send you modality
He: Will be sending you an iPhone and some money to enhance the process. I need quality pictures and videos.
Me: My phone will do, unless for logistics…
He: Never mind, I need high definition from an iPhone, it’s ideal for this project
Me: It’s Ok then if you insist (Thinking I was having a genuine discussion with a real fellow)…. He excused himself to come back later.
45 minutes later he was back.
He: Hi Raphael, please send me your location, complete name, address, email, country home address and phone number immediately, I need to dispatch your parcel. (He sent in a picture of a beautiful iPhone, claiming he’s already in dental store, exactly the language he used. I sent in the details as requested.
10 minutes later, he reverted with the picture of a well wrapped parcel with my details on it, and told me he’d sent my parcel to Nigeria alongside $500 enclosed for my expenses.
I couldn’t believe this, especially how fast the whole thing was going.
I entertained doubt, on a second thought I waved it, but I was trying to find a balance among the following questions in my mind:
- How can a stranger hook up with me on Facebook, and trust me immediately
- How could this stranger claim to need documentary from Africa when most of these things could be figured on internet
- How could he be so kind to trust an acclaimed Nigerian suddenly having expressed fears initially
- How could a stranger spend so much on iPhone then include $500 just to please me, when I could afford any phone I’d ever cherished for any kind of project.
All these questions and more were making rounds on my mind as I waited patiently for the reality.
Fast-forward to the next day… At about 5:30pm I got a call from a local number which claimed to be calling from a delivery agency in Lagos as well has received my parcel from the U.S.
I should quickly come for it at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
I got so confused, minutes later I called back enquiring if I could send any of my relatives who stays in Lagos for it, he declined vehemently that it must be myself.
For the record, I don’t stay in Lagos, my location is Anambra, probably why he insists knowing it won’t be that easy for me making an unscheduled trip to Lagos. I finally dropped the call.
I got so worried and pondered what could be happening, minutes later I called again, then enquired to get my parcel delivered to my location, at this point the cat jumped out of the bag itself which presumably confirmed my fears.
Me: Could you please send the parcel to my location in Anambra?
He: Yes, we can do that, but that will cost you N15000
He: Yes, that’s delivery fee to your location.
From my experience, whoever sends in a parcel pays for delivery straight to the receiver’s doorstep, so why am I having a different situation.
Me: This is already paid by the sender, why would you want to collect twice, before I could say a word further, he dropped the line, I was now at the pressure seat, fighting so hard to get my parcel delivered.
When I called back, he got so weird alleging how he’s being attending to numerous customers, I should conclude my transaction and all that.
I enquired to speak with the most senior officer in their office, which he obliged and gave me another number to reach the officer.
I did call and the officer ask me to go ahead and make my payment that there’s nothing fishy about the whole process, it’s a locus-standi.
Finally, I asked for the account number, boom, I received an Access Bank account number, to confirm my fears the more, it was a personal account number being used to collect an alleged company revenue.
This is just the most endearing Red flag of the process.
- Why should I pay for local delivery when the sender ought to have done so
- Why should I be asked to come to Lagos for my parcel when my details and address are being used to dispatch the parcel
- Again, when I enquired about the company name, they told me strange name I’d never heard of all my years in the industry.
- Why would they send me a personal account to pay in the N15,000 instead of a company account
- Why should I pay as much as N15,000 for a local delivery of an item not up to 1kg.
All these questions further exposed their weaknesses, I capitalized on them further to make informed decision against online scams.
Having considered all these, I stopped calling, they were calling me aggressively to lodge in the payment so I can get the parcel the next morning through Asaba first flight.
I played along, told them I’m trying to make up the remaining balance as I’m not aware of it prior.
He asked what I have with me, I said it’s N5000, he coarse me to make it N10,000 since I’m receiving from them for the first time, at least a discount.
I thanked him and promised to pay in shortly.
At about 9pm, he called to enquire about my progress and why the delay, I told him I couldn’t get the makeover.
He then ask me to pay in the N5000 as I stand to lose my parcel with further delays….
This was how I let them waste their airtime and precious time for wasting my time experimenting online scams on me.
You can easily understand how crafty the whole thing is.
How can a company who charges N15,000 for the acclaimed local delivery suddenly ask me to pay in N10,000 then N5000 having noticed I’m struggling.
They are just desperate scammers, they won’t forget me in a hurry.
Be wise enough to know that nothing comes from thin air, there’s no free launch anyway, not even in Freetown.
Learn from my experience, be guided, online scams are real.
Have you been scammed before now, have there been attempts on you, kindly share your experience so we can learn from you too.
Raphael Orji is a freelance writer, professional blogger and a content marketing consultant. I work with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs in building their brand image with high quality blogging and content marketing strategy.
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