A most unusual title, yes? I guess it best describes what you are about to read;
I got a fraudulent SMS from an unknown number sometime last week and after a lot of thinking, I decided to share the experience with you and get some reactions. The SMS goes thus; ‘Congratulation! You have won #250,000.00 Your no is among the 42 lucky winners of LACASERA (A popular soft drink in Nigeria) DRINK PROMO. Ticket no, GXB30. Call 08131889692. To claim your prize. (Please note I reconstructed the SMS verbatim).
It didn’t help that I was in a bad mood when it came in and I couldn’t help replying the fraudsters with some choice words that my mom spent close to 20 years trying to prevent me from learning. My response; ‘ You muthafuckers must be really dumb to think anyone will fall for you scam… Lacasera promo,my arse!you dumb fucks can’t even spell right. (Also reconstructed verbatim).
I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I was at the end of my tether. I get an average of 13 fraudulent proposals every year; an average of one per month. The pretty imaginative proposals range from purchase of oil refineries to inheritances left by dead relatives, with astronomical figures being dangled in front of you in the frenzied bid to separate you from your cash. I have had people call me up and address me by my first name, claiming to have met me in the past and offering me deals which promise fantastic returns. Depending on my mood, I play along until I feel I’ve burnt enough of their airtime and then I hang up and refuse to pick subsequent calls. In the past, it was just foreigners that were being targeted but with increased surveillance by anti-fraud authorities (local and International), the fraudsters switched their focus to the local scene with varying degrees of success.
The sentence structures of the proposals are nearly always filled with grammatical errors. Most ‘yahoo boys’ (local parlance for fraudsters) are school dropouts and they invariably expose their lack of education when they try to communicate with people. Another trait of yahoo boys is to offer fantastic returns on a seemingly easy business deal. I had a guy call me up one day, claiming to be a Port-Harcourt based staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He offered me a return of N15,000,000 (approximately 99,000 dollars) if I would agree to bribe his boss with N200,000 (approximately 1,400 dollars) so he would award me a contract to supply NNPC with some office equipment. I told him to stick it up his arse and cut the call!
On the streets of Lagos, it is common to see young lads who have no verifiable source of income driving flashy cars, wearing expensive clothes, and sporting the latest communication and entertainment gadgets. In clubs they buy the most expensive bottles of liquor and hold court in the center of their sycophant friends who more often than not, find ‘other’ friends when the pipeline goes dry. Really, if I were a cop and I saw a 20-year old kid driving a Honda Accord 2008 model and carrying a blackberry, I would shoot him in the leg and drag him to my station and ask questions later. The ‘419’ (local slang for advance-fee fraud) boys, in their ‘pursuit of happiness’, go to great lengths to snag a ‘maga’ (local slang for victim of these schemes) including employing diabolical means. Stories abound of fraudsters who patronize witch-doctors for ‘special powers’ to help them fleece their targets of their money.
This group of individuals, who represent less than 0.0001% of Nigeria’s population, have given the country a terrible reputation in the community of Nations. Nearly every form of communication that emanates from Nigeria or a Nigerian is scrutinized with a fine tooth comb. Nigerians who travel out of the country are usually separated from boarding or arrival lines and frisked to the point of embarrassment at airports. I seriously am not looking forward to travelling out of the country anytime soon, especially after the Christmas Day bomb scare by that dumb-ass Abdulmutallab fella which has gotten international airport security teams paranoid about Nigerians.
I’m not defending the actions of these people, but how come the world behaves like Nigerians are the scum of the earth? America has one of the highest crime rates in the world, ranging from gang violence to drug wars. Britain is home to crackpots and skinheads who stab people on the streets. The Russian mafia is one of the most feared in the world and they have some really heavy scam artists too. So, why is Nigeria so vilified? It gets my goose whenever I read any negative report about Nigeria on the internet. Sony released an advert for the new PS3 and in the ad, a guy said; ‘If you believe everything you hear on the internet, you’ll be a Nigerian millionaire.’ Come on! After some ranting by the Nigerian Government, the material was withdrawn and a high-powered delegation from Sony visited Nigeria and met with Information Minister, Dora Akunyili to apologize. Why was it allowed to air in the first place? That goof almost made me NOT buy the PS3 console after my xbox 360 packed up (But I’m too much of a game freak to let that get to me! Sony, behave or… …)
Ok… I’m outta breath! I don’t know why but I just felt the need to let out some steam. Not a very prudent first piece but I hope you guys will understand and bear with me… See you next week, be safe!