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Akpo Uyeh: Identifying Scammers

Akpo Uyeh: Identifying Scammers

Scammers, a.k.a 419ers, have upgraded. With the improvement in technology and social media, they have devised several strategies to dupe unsuspecting victims. It is at times like this that you need to ‘shine your eyes,’ lest you fall prey.

I’m not sure how scammers get the personal information of their victims, but they somehow always have the data. Recently, I received some annoying messages asking me to call certain numbers or give away certain information. My first instinct was to cover the sender with insults. Another move, if I had the time, would have been to bless them and preach the gospel. After all, they needed a change of lifestyle.

On this fateful day, an incoming call came in from someone not on my contact list. I actually thought it was a business associate. Since the environment was too noisy, I told the caller that I would return the call.

As I promised, I called back when I got to a noise-free environment. After a brief introduction that left me puzzled, the caller told me the purpose of the phone call. It was obviously a middle-aged man. I could tell from his voice. I decided to play along, play Ms. Nice.

It was with an intense irritation that I found out that it was a scammer. How he knew my name is what I still don’t know.

So what did he actually say?

He wanted me to serve as an acquaintance to lodge in a hotel where I would meet with another ‘business partner’ to ‘seal a deal.’ They had arranged that I get a certain percentage from the supposed business meeting. However, two things were involved:

I had to provide my bank details and I needed to be available to accompany them to the business meeting.

Who was I meeting with? No concrete explanation. How did you get my number? Still no valid response. And the man wanted me to just jump on his offer. Did I mention that he tried to lure me with a mouth-watering commission? Looking at my current account balance, I might as well forgotten my home training and given in. Thank God greed didn’t get the better part of me.

Come to think of it, I would not have granted the caller audience if he didn’t call back. As soon as I suspected foul play, I ended the call, but he remained adamant and called back. After allowing him to make a fool of himself for like close to 20-25 minutes, I politely turned down the offer and moved on with my daily activities.

That is just one of the many cases. How about Facebook friend requests? How someone with whom you don’t share mutual friends finds you and sends a request is quite surprising. The painful ones are the ones who start begging for money. I almost fell for those scammers. This time around it was not from an unknown person. It was from a schoolmate whose account got hacked. I was happy to receive a message from Tina. It had been long since we last saw or spoke to it each other. Our last meeting was during graduation. We lost contact during the compulsory National Youth Service Scheme. Thank God for Facebook, we reconnected and stayed updated with each other.

For a while, she went mute. Out of blue, she resurfaced. When my phone beeped, it was a message from Tina. I was so excited to hear from her. After we exchanged pleasantries via chat. Boom! She landed. She said that she was in need of a certain amount of money. According to her, she needed the money to send to a niece. She added that she was having difficulty sending money because of network issues on her mobile banking app.

I almost fell for that scam. I almost wanted to send the money; she promised to refund the next day. But something held me back. My instincts told me that it was possible I was being played. I turned her down politely. The next day, I got a message from Tina that it was a scam. She disclosed that her account had been hacked and it had been dormant for quite some time. No wonder she had been mute on social media. She left me wondering what I would have done if I sent the money requested. Imagine the pain of being duped. Thank goodness!

Have you been scammed before? How can you identify a scammer?

Photo CreditDreamstime

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