OK people, here is my funny ordeal with recharge cards fraudsters I mistook as genuine customers some years ago. Its a true life story I want to share and it’s coming from the first person narrator. A similar incident that happened yesterday brought back a lot of memories to write this article.
It’s the festive period and so many individuals with mischievous minds and intentions are on the prowl looking out for innocent and naive fellows to carry out their fraudulent activities just to get some cash and spend during the Xmas and New Year celebrations.
As you may know, normally due to the demanding nature of my job, I usually do not post any article during the week because the time for that is not available.
It’s more than stressful getting home from work and going straight to the laptop to write something. The body isn’t a machine but even if it were, machines also do break down from exhaustion after a while, but because of the issue at hand and how it relates to me, I decided to pen this down.
So, I was in the vehicle on my way home from the office on Tuesday when we got to a particular part of Lagos and saw lots of people gathering on one spot and trying to console a sales girl of about 18 years of age or thereabout.
There was a small crowd of people which caused some traffic gridlock and slowed movement of cars and people. Upon investigation to what happened from the window I’d sat, we learnt she had lost some money to some criminals who came to her shop and posed as genuine customers ready to buy some products.
After they paid for the products and left the shop, she decided to put the money properly in the right place. At this moment she felt that something was wrong with the money paid her by the ‘’criminal customers’’. To her utmost shock, the currencies were fake which prompted her to run out of the shop shouting and asking those around if they saw the two fraudsters.
While some people were blaming her for not ‘’shining her eyes’’ properly while being given the money by the criminals, others were busy reigning curses on them and praying they meet their Waterloo with their next victims: the proper Nigerian style.
At this moment of confusion and while still waiting for the road to get cleared by sympathizers for our vehicle to make its way out of that scene, my mind immediately played a similar event that happened to me the period after my secondary school.
I was helping my mother to man her shop which was few meters away from my home while also using the opportunity to sell phone cards- a business I’d set up for myself to pass time and gather some cash to take care of my needs.
I’d decided to keep myself busy selling call cards (recharge cards) to make ends meet after my secondary education while waiting for any of the universities I’d chosen in the JAMB examination as my choices to admit me.
From a tender age, I’ve always had the mentality of ‘’No Food For a lazy Man’’ and also believe I do not need to depend on anyone for provision of my basic needs- independent lady syndrome!
So on this faithful day, while sitting in the open but under the big MTN yellow umbrella people in such line of business use to shade them from the scorching sun, two young men in their 30’s approached me to buy some call cards for their mobile phones. Without having any thought of the evil intentions they had planned to carry out on me, I reached for the zip of the bag containing the cards.
I brought the cards out and asked them for the particular network they wanted to recharge their phones with. While expecting to be paid with the normal currency (Naira) we use in Nigeria, they brought a $100 Dollar bill. It was a mixed reaction for me.
First, I was so shocked seeing the Dollar and secondly, I have heard so much about the way young boys were making so much money and spending these fraudulently gotten money recklessly. These monies were gotten from fraudulent activities targeted at unsuspecting people through the internet, mostly older women professing love through some dating sites.
I thought they wanted to show off the usual way yahoo yahoo boys (internet fraudsters) do. It was the era when the term yahoo yahoo boys was making lots of noise around.
‘’We do not have any Naira notes on us because we are just coming from the bank where we got the Dollar bills after cashing it from western union, give us the equivalent of N16,000 worth of airtime while we pay you in Dollars……one said.
”You could be on the gainer’s side when you convert the money from the local money changers’’, he continued.
Aside seeing and knowing how it looks like on TV stations, truth is, that was actually the very first time I was seeing and holding a Dollar in real life (sadly, it was a fake one).
With so much gladness in my heart, I took the money and gave them the equivalent of the dollar bills (about N16,000 then) and waved them goodbye hoping to surprise my folks back home at the close of the day with my ”huge sales”.
But the excitement was too much that I couldn’t even wait till the the close of the day. I packed the umbrella I was using as shade into the main shop and locked it after which I ran home to give my folks the ”good news”. I met my elder brother at home and flashed the dollar bills. He sat up straight and wanted to know where I got it from.
I informed him I got it from my sales of recharge cards. He inspected it and told me it was fake.
”Impossible”, I said.
I refused to believe him and we went to a bureau de change together where I was informed it was fake.
Ghen ghen! How do I recover my N16,000 worth of recharge cards? At this moment I felt like the ground should just open and swallow me for my stupidity.
Next thing I became inconsolable, I wept like someone who had lost a King’s fortune. Nothing anyone said could have made me felt better .
Here was a young girl of 17 trying to make something out for herself and these heartless people couldn’t even see her as their younger sister. How could people be this wicked to a young girl? Can’t an uncommon miracle happen in one’s life again?
I mourned my loss for well over a month and my siblings didn’t make it easy for me.
Everyone taunted me at the slightest provocation, blaming my actions on greed and how to get rich quick. They told me my greed for quick gains caught up with me, that’s the reason I fell for such gimmicks. I was helpless and couldn’t defend myself too.
And for the next couple of months, if I did anything or ganged up with anyone against any other sibling at home, I was always reminded with the words ”that’s why you settle down go dash your recharge cards to thieves na”. My immediate younger brother was my main tormentor.
Ever since then I look out for scammers,
- If you told me a story too good to be true, then you are lying.
- If you have goods for sale at a ridiculously cheap rate then you are lying also.
- If everyone is selling a product for a particular price and because you want to get more customers and your price was reduced drastically, to me your product is either expired or counterfeit.
- I don’t believe in promos too. I feel nothing is free etc.
I am extremely suspicious of most schemes no matter how genuine they might be.
While in my case, it was my business, in the girl’s case the loss probably meant a huge slash in her salary for a month, two or more months, depending on the worth of the products. So much pity from me to her looking at the way she was crying.
Anytime I recall this painful ordeal with recharge cards fraudsters, I just blame my younger self for not being smart enough that day.
Did i learn a lesson after that? Yeeaaaah!
- Appearance could be deceptive
So let me read from you and kindly add any experience in the comment section if you have ever fallen to activities of fraudsters.