Still at large By Seyi Olanihun

I got a call from a fraudster today. I believe it was a con artist since he refused to give his name and identified himself as, ‘emi ni, lati London.’ Yes my people, that’s how thick the chap was and I’m not sure what planet he thinks he’s on! The sheer un-sophistication was irritating and maybe it was meant to be part of a new ‘rustic’ appeal. I was supposed to ‘recognise’ the voice and infer from the friendly tone that it was a long-lost acquaintance from yonder.

To be sincere it wasn’t a flattering experience and it raised my ire no end! Really, breaking into Yoruba and using the Almighty’s nomenclature wasn’t the best route to go…in my humble opinion. When you think about it (serious, deep thoughts that counts) the average Nigerian knows more than one person in England. Family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and much more are linked to us on that small isle. On the other hand I guess that’s why the scam works so beautifully on some people. If you’re not guarded you can blurt out a name and the damage is done.

As a result of the connections to the UK, swindlers have succeeded in cheating many people nationwide. This is an aspect of the 419 reputation that’s not often highlighted. These chaps scheme fellow countrymen and women out of home, money and livelihood too. Through hacking and other intelligence they acquire authentic information that is used to deceive the mark and ultimately achieve their goals. There are numerous tales to tell…if you can find the right people to ask about their experiences. Sadly, more people still fall victim, but the level of operational sophistication by these tricksters has been upgraded time and time again.

This brings me back to my Monday morning experience and its utter lack of intelligence. The chap could not think up a simple familiar name to lure me, neither could his brain conceive another town apart from London. I wasn’t in the mood to humour the nitwit and so I ended the conversation very abruptly. I’m not one that takes light time wastage and so had to end it so I could do something more productive. I’ve known people that received similar calls and helped the other party expend both their time and call credit by stringing them along. They managed to get a few laughs and hopefully taught the jokers at the other end of the line that not everyone is as susceptible as they once were when the scam games began.

Unfortunately, some people will fall foul of these rogues but others will smell a rat. Although some scams are not as transparent as the overseas call, but by keeping greed low and asking questions they can be detected. The local variety abound and keep morphing so care, background checks, referrals you trust and other things must be done before doing business with individuals or entities of unknown reputation and origin. In proposed deals it’s best to err on the side of caution rather than repentant at leisure.

The comedian at the other end of my phone didn’t quite get what he expected during our brief conversation. I’m sure he promptly forgot about me and made more calls that day trying to see which bait would work. By fine tuning and re-strategising they will hit a formula (several more like) that works. Thankfully, this scenario is not as easy as it once was and they also have to work pretty hard to arrive at functional schemes that thrive until people figure out the crookedness and alert others too!


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