“I’m sure you’ve heard stories of how people get scammed. As a matter of fact, you may have fallen victim. You are not alone, I too have been scammed”, Thomas said as I handed him a bottle of water and sat close to him on the mat he place under the mango tree. He had just saved me from one of those Lagos hoodlums who tried to play a fast one on me. I sat in the comfort of the cool breeze and listened keenly as he continued after sipping the water.
“It was a sunny Friday and I needed to withdraw some money for the weekend. I could have gone to the bank on Saturday or when I needed it, but since I had no ATM card, going on Friday is the only chance I’ve got with my withdrawal booklet.
Well, I withdrew the money successfully and left the bank. Immediately I alighted at the point heading towards my home, I felt someone grabbed me and as I turned to see who it was, the person left my wrist and smiled as I looked at him. The face didn’t look familiar so I ignored him and continued home. As I took the turn that leads straight towards where I reside, I noticed he was still following me. To be sure, I slowed my pace, and he also did same. I noticed the same movement from the man when you alighted from the bus and so I followed you.
Anyway back to my story…
Suddenly, what came to my mind was the money I had on me. Did I mention the road to my house was a lonely one? Sure it was. This got me scared and I was prepared to give it a big fight even if it gets to gun point.
With many 007 and Jackie Chan moves running through my mind, I also wished I had paid a motor cyclist to drop me home from the point where I had alight the bus. Still pondering on what to do, I saw a poster on an electric pole which was almost falling down. Immediately, I stopped and pretended to be reading it. As he got close to where I was, he stopped and said to me, “Excuse me brother”.
Slowly I turned to see if he was already pointing a gun. But as I turned and looked at him, he was smiling again at me.
I was confused as to what to do. Didn’t know if I should shout at him or smile back. As I tried to talk to him, I could hear my heart beating very fast as if I just did a hundred meters.
Yes! What can I do for you? I asked in a wavering tone. Immediately, I felt as if I was being controlled. Just like when one is very high on alcohol. I knew I haven’t had any drink but at the same time I had no control of any sort over my actions.
I remember we started discussing as if we had known each other like forever. He asked many questions and I gave him all the answers he needed.
HERE COMES THE SCAM
After all the acquaintances, we talked about where I was coming from and how much I had on me. He then gave me a big Ghana-must-go bag, which he asked me to take home, sweep the dirt of my room and the surroundings, put it into the bag and zip it. He warned against trying to tell anyone or attempting to open the bag.
He also instructed me to give him the money I had, and to go look for more money if I wanted to have a good result. He also gave me his number to contact him when I get more money. This I also did.
To cut this short story short, I didn’t sleep at home as instructed. I attended a church vigil close to my home. I wasn’t myself in the service that night. I was tormented by the anxiety of what awaits me by dawn. By the way, the man told me the bag will be full of money when I opened it.
Now it was 4.am and the church was dismissed. My neighbours who came were about leaving, but I refused going and told them I needed to stay back to see the pastor. With my eyes glued to the big round clock in front of where I sat, I couldn’t wait till sun rise. At last the day was bright, and I jumped from up the chair almost colliding with the pillar where I rested my head.
I rushed home, opened the door, and locked myself in. I went straight towards the bag and opened it. As soon as I did, behold I laid eyes upon all the dirt I had put the previous day. Looking lost, I didn’t need a prophet to tell me I had just been scammed. What? 419? How can that be? Now my eyes were about dropping from its socket and I was sweating profusely.
I guess I didn’t let you in on the amount involved? As I said earlier, I needed to use the money that weekend, but that’s not all. I was also to go to computer village to buy a laptop. But the reality before me as I sat on the floor was that there will be no laptop or the ninety-six thousand naira. Why me I asked inwardly? Not to mention, the four thousand naira I borrowed to make it a wholesome hundred thousand naira. That period was a time Nigeria had just gone into recession. Why now? I lamented.
Before now I doubted those who had fallen victim especially when they talk about a charm used to make them unconscious of their actions. But here I was dumbfounded and not knowing where to begin or whom to call to my rescue.
Sitting hopelessly in my room with my door still locked, I thought of how to get back my money. After about one hour with no headway, my phone rang and like lightening, the idea struck.
It was a solution out of the mess I had found myself. It was a call from my friend who was to go with me to computer village. His call reminded me that I had the scammers’ phone number. And the remedy to my predicament was to bait the scammer.
This idea of mine gave me little courage to answer the call from my friend. He called to let me know he had errands to run for his fathers and he wouldn’t finish on time. His father only sent him on errands when he is at home. And luckily for me, he was a policeman. This was the best opportunity to recover my money.
I dashed to the bathroom immediately, took my bath and left for their house. On getting there my friend whom I wanted to be my spokes-person, wasn’t in. I had no choice than to ask for an audience with his father.
With a policeman in front of me, I said to myself, “young man, this isn’t the time to be scared”, so I summoned more courage than I have had and explained in detail everything that transpired with the swindler.
I finished my story, and listened for what he would say. His response sounded reluctant to help me and it didn’t give any atom of hope. But immediately I told him the idea I had conceived to recover the money, he became interested and asked what the bait would be.
I told him I will call the scammer, tell him I haven’t opened the bag yet because I want to give him more money since he said the more my money, the better the outcome of what I will see. But did this idea work?
Sure, it did perfectly. The scammer wasn’t wise enough a scammer. He was prey to the bait and this time he foolishly asked me to meet him in his house. In the mood of celebration, he bought two bottles of malt waiting for me to arrive. But before he could say Jack Robinson, he was already in cuffs.
As to the whereabouts of the money, since it was weekend, he couldn’t have taken it anywhere so it was recovered in total. But according to police procedures, I couldn’t lay hands on my own money immediately.
I had to go to the police station, put down a statement or two, before I could get my money. Of course I couldn’t get this money that weekend; I had to visit the police station almost every day after that weekend. Trust our police in this part of the world; they never gave me the complete money. They had to take their own cut, and at the end I was left with seventy thousand naira only. It was still ok anyway.
I got scammed of hundred thousand naira and I got seventy thousand naira back.
So that’s my story my dear friend”, he said smiling at me.
Photo Credit: northwestnewspapers