How to Stay Vigilant; Fraudsters Are On The Look-Out

Humans: a set of unsatiable and never-to-be-pleased creature. That’s what humans are. Just few days ago, I had come online, on WhatsApp, to meet a message from my friend: Philemon, asking me for help that he needed a thousand Naira urgently for something very important. 

I knew if I were to be in the same shoe as he was, he would help me. At the time, however, I had just N1,600 in my account and would need to make use of the money by weekend. I told him that I would need the money by weekend and asked if he could pay back by weekend and he, promising and swearing by anything swearable, assured me that he would send the money back to me before weekend. Out of love and trust I sent him the money.

It’s four days already and he is yet to send me back my money. I was annoyed even with the fact that he couldn’t say a word of appreciation after receipt of the money. Not just that, he has left messages I’ve been sending to him, on WhatsApp, unread even though he was online all the time. 

My reaction shuttled between resentment, annoyance, near-hatred and now nervousness drenched in trepidation that my money would not be sent and what I had saved the money for would pass without me accomplishing it.

With the time I was meant to use the money drawing nearer and nearer, I decided to call him, since he had failed to live up to his word. I breathed in three times and then dialled his number. His phone rang for five(5) consecutive times, and he failed to pick-up. I was boiling in anger and fuming in the steam of rage. 

Why would he not pick my call? Why! 

See why you don’t need to trust humans: when he needed my help, I helped him because he is my friend and now, without looking back or having a rethink, he was stabbing me at the back. I waited for about 20 minutes and then redialed his number and still he didn’t pick-up. 

Hatred, this time around, joined the rage I felt. 

“Why is Philemon acting this way?” I wondered within me.

It was about 2 hours later, when I was already giving up that he picked up his call. His voice from the other end was chatty, devoid of blemish and full of innocence.

“Azuu! How far? Sorry say I miss your call. Na just now I collect my phone and I dey go buy airtime now make I call you back before you call now. This one you call me today, wetin sup?” He asked.  

The intermittent break in his voice signalling that he was on motion. I was shocked. 

“Did he forget that he had borrowed money from me and promised to pay back before weekend?” I asked myself.

“Hello. Azuu, you dey hear me?” He inquired, after some few seconds of silence from my end.

“Sorry, guy, na network-o. How far?” I lied, allowing myself to flow with the tide of his pretence.

“Not too far again o. I just dey. This one you call me today, Chinasa, your ‘girl’ number no dey reachable ni?”

He asked, laughing hysterically at his own joke and sarcasm.

I guffawed. “Idiot!”

“Ehen, guy, them hack my WhatsApp-o-o-o” he quipped.

That announcement was too sudden and unexpected that my throat at that instant became patched.  

“Wait, what do you mean? When? How did it happen? How is that possible?” I asked, bombarding him with questions I didn’t think before asking.

He laughed. “Guy, where you want make I begin answer?”

“When was your account hacked?” I asked, trepidation holding me in a tight embrace. It shouldn’t just be what I was thinking, I prayed. 

“Monday, guy,” he retorted.

“Jesus! You chat me up on Tuesday say make I send you 1k…”

“Shay you no send am? Tell me say you no send am!” He quipped, not allowing me to finish what I was saying.

“I send am o!” I announced. The reality of that announcement heavy and suppressing. I have been duped by an imposter. I then continued, “After de person say make I send money and I gree, de person send account way no carry your name, I ask why no be your name, e say na one business like that and say na the account you wan send the money to”

He was angry and sad. I saw it through his voice. He narrated how it had happened, how his WhatsApp account, which before now I didn’t know could be hacked, was hacked: He was sleeping when someone called him and told him that Kachifo investment: a group he belonged to and where the caller had gotten his number from, was organizing a seminar and that he was calling him to inform him that the seminar would be going down by 8:00pmof that day. He told him that he would send him a reservation code which would be his ticket to the seminar.  

After about 40 seconds the caller had ended the call, a message was sent to his phone and almost immediately the caller called back and asked him to call-out the “reservation code” he sent to him. 

Sleepy and ignorant, he called out the code. And almost immediately, he glanced at the message again only to discover that the message was from whatsApp with a verification code and an instruction not to disclose to a third party. Before he could do anything, the fraudster had changed the phone number he used to create the WhatsApp account. And he could do nothing about it; it was too late, so he was told.

I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe my ears, what and the information it was sending to my crerebrum. I was wallowing in self-pity, resentment and hallucination of things that would have been, what I had planned to use that money for and how hard I had worked to make that money, that I didn’t hear  most of what he said after he had narrated his tale and promised to find a way to send back the money with me refusing, telling him to forget about it.

My head was just enlarging and banging as legions and more legions of demons with drums and a whole lot of other musical instrument were singing to my chagrin an unharmonious song, the only lyric of the song been: theyhave scammed you, you cannot do anything about  it!

Azubuike Immanuel (Ad Meliora)

©June, 2020.

Stay safe, stay alive, keep vigilance.

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