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THE JOURNAL: Fraud Alert

Dear Diary,

I was minding my own business at work some afternoons ago when a friend buzzed me on Facebook inbox. This friend lives in London, and is one of those people who almost never initiate conversations on the social media. They are the ones who you have to say hi to every now and then just to remind them that y’all are on each other’s friend lists.

So you can imagine my surprise when he sent the message: Hello, how are you doing?

Me: I’m good.

Him: Great to hear from you. How is work and family? Hope all is well?

Now, this was where the first alarm bell pinged off my subconscious, nothing loud, just a faint presentment to the weirdness of the conversation. You see, my friend is a bit of a witty fellow, and ‘How is work and family, hope all is well’ sounded like something his grandmother would say.

Me: All is indeed well. Thanks for asking. (Added a smiley here for effect)

Him: That’s good. I really need a little favour from you now.

And instantly, my goodwill instinct kicked in. He’d never asked me for anything before; in fact, the guy is very self-sufficient, and so, seeing him request for a favour from me instantly put me in the frame of mind to move seven mountains and hack through seven forests just to do a good one for him.

Me: Yes?

Him: I’m in a meeting right now and a good friend of mine is stranded in Kogi, Lokoja. I need your help with airtime to send to her. I promise to refund your money once I’m through with the meeting, okay?

Me: How much?

Him: MTN 5000 naira.

Now, if I were unemployed or not working for MTN, I’d have sadly declined. I may have good intentions for friends and family, but only Jesus came to die for the sake of the world. Three thousand naira is not something I’d just toss out for a friend who I interact with about three times a year.

But this would be my standpoint if I was unemployed or didn’t work for MTN.

But I do, and something about the job sort of insulates you from being tight-fisted with the resources that are readily available to you, resources you could bestow on another close to you in his hour of need. So, instead of a grimace and a sorrow-filled response of ‘Oh, I can’t, I’m so sorry’, I replied with: you should know that the airtime we sell here isn’t the recharge card kind, where the pin is sent and the recipient can either recharge or sell. It’s electronic and it recharges the line directly.

Him: Okay.

Me: Is that okay by your friend?

Him: Yes.

And that was when the second subconscious ping went off. Because the thing is, in my opinion, when someone asks you for airtime on the premise that he or she is stranded, it is my understanding that said someone wants to barter the airtime for money to bail himself out of a tight situation. And so, this someone would need the pin of the airtime; recharging his phone with the airtime would just be an inconvenience. Sure, of course, he could always transfer the amount from his phone, but ‘wouldn’t it be better if you simply sent me the recharge card pin?’

I pondered this while I typed out my response: Very well, what’s the number?

Him: 07034753025 (That’s the actual number he gave to me, guys. So feel free to investigate it as you wish, perhaps send it to EFCC to look into…?)

Him: Have you got it? How soon can you send it?

Me: In about three minutes.

Him: Ok. Let me know as soon as you send the card.

But then, I got sidetracked with work, and three minutes ticked by into some five-or-six minutes. And he buzzed me again: Are you there?

I didn’t reply because I was still attending to customers, and hadn’t seen the message. Some seven minutes passed, and he buzzed again: Please, talk to me. Are you there?

Me: (finally) Yes.

Him: Have you sent the card?

I had the phone in my hand. I’d already typed out the number he gave him. I was just a couple of clicks away from transferring five thousand naira to the number. Then the Anti-Fraud gods declared in my favour: NOT TODAY!

Because, just then, yet another ping echoed in my subconscious. This time, it nudged awake a memory from last year, an encounter with a customer I had in September. He was an elderly man, looked well-to-do, and after I attended to his customer need, he – as an aside – told me he had another problem. Apparently, both his email and Facebook accounts had been hacked. He’d not been able to log into either accounts for about a week, and had thought nothing of it. He was after all a busy businessman, and kept procrastinating on the rectification of the problem. Then a friend called him to enquire about what ‘the problem was that was so serious he inboxed him on Facebook to ask him for 3, 000 naira.’ Then another friend called, and yet another. They were collectively startled by this problem that had him sending them Facebook messages, asking for airtime. Peanuts, for that matter. He was a businessman for crying-out-loud. These friends expected phone calls for loans above 10, 000 naira. And that was when he realized he’d been hacked.

And so, he wanted to know if I was savvy with technology enough to get his accounts back under his control. I was. And after an hour of doing this and that, we wrested control back from the hacker. We checked his Facebook inbox; it was littered with implorations for recharge card ranging from 3, 000 to 5, 000 naira.

And, diary, you know what the kicker is? This fraudster wanted help for a friend who was stranded in Lokoja, Kogi State.

Unbelievable!

Ding-ding!

Suddenly, I saw the light. Was blind, and now I could see. So, instead of going ahead with the transaction, I typed a response to ‘my friend’: No, I haven’t sent the card.

Him: Why?

Me: I have suddenly realized that you could be a fraud. So, to convince me otherwise, tell me the mutual friend who introduced you to me. Tell me his name and I will send the airtime.

Seconds later, the notification inched in below my message: Seen Tue At 2: 16 PM.

It still remains seen.

And without any reply.

Hmm, I wonder why.

I am @Walt_Shakes on twitter


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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33 comments

  1. His name is Eze One… so said Truecaller.

    Meanwhile, Shakey, im stranded in Kaduna o! I need airtime, our mutual friend is Obama. Oya, do the needful!

    *prepares phone to ping in 3 minutes time*

  2. Walter ooo; you have suffered in this work you are doing ooo. Heheheheheheheheh.

  3. Hehehe No be small thing oh.

  4. I have experienced the same thing. I told the person I couldn’t go out that night to buy cards and if she can provide an account number and name I will do an instant transfer.. You all know how the story ended.

  5. Fraudsters are so dumb that dey recycle the same Format to scam peeps. I always look and pass wenever such msgs pop up.

  6. This hacker thing is really becoming a problem. What can one do to stop all this probs naa? *Sighs with a tired look*

    • shakespeareanwalter

      These days, one is forced to wonder if its just the idle mind that is the devil’s workshop. Some of these fraudulent activities aren’t fostered by idle minds.

  7. Choi, dem wan turn Walter to Father January. But then good you fed ur instinct.

  8. Narrow escape. Cyber criminals sha.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Someone said, if only they will channel their energies into something worthwhile, this country would be a better place.

  9. Sigh.
    This will never stop.
    Facebook, emails and even phone calls. All scams! Thank God you are sharp!

  10. Imagine the embarrassment for the owner of the account

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Hehehehee!!! To think he would have gone round seeking the same thing from other Facebook contacts of the owner.

  11. The hacker must have known you could do that transfer for him. Must have taken his time to go through your timeline and all that. Na wa o. All this airtime you are sharing, hmm, there is ….

  12. Thank God for you oo… lol! It happened to a friend of mine but in another format. She called rubbish numbers and the guy insulted her and hung up.. Smh! Dumb people!

  13. I had a similar experience on Sunday. Mine was someone I really respect, a surgeon who asked me to help him send 50k to a friend via a GT account cod he couldn’t make it to the bank on Friday and it was urgent. Because I respcet this man, I didn’t hesitate. We were out of the house and my token wasn’t with me so I asked my husband to help me do the transfer since he had his token with me. At that point something told me to call the man and when I did he told me his account was hacked and he has been getting phone calls from all over. Meanwhile the OLODO was still asking me how far? Are you there? Have you sent it? (Walt are you sure it wasn’t the same person? I told him I will prefer to give him cash face to face. Didn’t h hear from him/her again. Myscheeeeeew!!!!!

  14. if na so scam easy, I should be a millionaire now with all my knowledge. but no, here I am terminating cables and networking jamb computers. Dear, Walter’s journal, can I at Least learn hacking (not the ethical type o but the blackhat type linked to “ANONYMOUS”) so that I can at Least check these scammers’ details, put them on an internet blacklist for the whole world to see and if possible self, scam them back?

  15. I just tire for this matter oh, had the exact same experience earlier today.
    Unfortunately for the idiot, its not the first time i’v encountered his/her likes. So as soon as I saw the… ‘I need your help’ line, I urged the fellow on and after he was done ranting about 3000 airtime, I typed out a really lengthy laughter.
    Now for you to know how stupid these folks are, he went on giving me a number to send the airtime to when I said I prefer share and sell, the laughter dint even make it click that I was on to the game. Dnt wanna finish my data typing out the rest of our veerrrryyyy interesting chat but suffice it to say- I had some fun making yeye of the specie 😀

  16. Hmm… fraudsters… I tire for them..

    Almost got duped last year… long story ehn but its sad… really sad

  17. Uncle waltz the father January, u know all our mutual friends, several of them. Just send the small recharge card to my phone. There is no need waiting for me to give yiu mpre details. You know already that I am stranded in Jupiter, I need to make a call the Venus, the harmatten here un Jupiter nor be joke o. Please hurry up before my battery runs down. NEPA refused to give us light here since last week.

  18. Its become so rampant in the past few days. My sister also experienced one a few days ago. I’ll share soon…

  19. Kai….see as God take deliver you…

  20. I am stranded in my house. I need 100,000 Naira to go to the ATM and withdraw 200,000 Naira. I will then use it to get transport to go to the bank and, get 5000 Naira that I actually need.
    I will be expecting your response within the hour. Help the ministry move to the permanent site. God bless you as you do so.

  21. Walter, guess what? the phone number he gave you is active. Very active. I called it and a guy picked. SMH at the desperation in people!!!!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      LOL. I’m guessing when you identified yourself in all your FBI glory, he ended the call with ‘Wrong number’, yes? 🙂

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