How to Avoid Getting Scammed: Helpful Tips From Nigeria, the Scam Capital of the World
All There Is to Know About Scam and Scammers...
Scams are real, and scammers exist, tucked in every corner of the world, with Nigeria being the Mecca of scam and all things scam-related. This is the one thing that makes me ashamed of my nationality and I hope it changes as we continue to fight scam from over here.
I got my first scam experience last year and if you've ever been scammed, you'll agree it can be a shocking and painful experience. The scammer got me for a meager $50 dollars and I nearly went ballistic. This got me thinking: if I could get so depressed over $50, how do people who get scammed for a whole lot more feel?
My Scam Story
I used to write for now-defunct channels.cc and would transfer my earnings every month or so to my PayPal account. Finally, I had $50.26 and needed to do a direct exchange to naira.
Now, against my better judgement, I went online (nairaland.com to be precise) and got in touch with the first advertisement for PayPal sales services I came across.
I contacted the buyer and he was so calm and patient: putting me step-by-step through a process I didn't know as it was my first time using an exchanger.
Needless to say, my scam radar didn't beep. Ordinarily, I would insist on a face-to-face meet, or at least have made use of an escrow. In this case though, I felt this wasn't necessary; I was sucked in by this guy's pleasant attitude and went ahead to do business without even having him checked out.
The funds were sent, and I waited for my account to be credited, but the scammer informed me he was on the road enroute to another state and to give him a few hours. Of course, I told him to take his time and to send the money in a few hours.
A few hours turned to 24, but the scammer kept assuring me to exercise more patience and he would send my money, until 24 hours became 3 days.
At this point, it dawned on me I'd just been a victim of a scam. What baffled me was that each time I called the guy, he would pick up and calmly explain he was having some difficulties and implore me to be patient. This went on for a month, until I was finally able to still that small part of me that kept insisting the guy wasn't a scammer and was truly experiencing difficulties like he claimed.
Some Key Facts About Scam and Scammers You Should Know
From my experience, from the experiences of those around me who have also had the misfortune of being victims, and from what I see happening around me, here are a few facts about scammers you should know:
- They are extremely patient (emphasis here)—like they can be in your life a really long time waiting for the perfect time to strike.
- Women are the chief target for scammers.
- As I said earlier, they usually have alluring attributes as part of their scheme to suck you in. They could seem extremely attentive or devoted to you, making you feel you have found that one friend or missing half that completes you.
- You usually cannot find much about the scammer online if you try to have him checked out, and this should be the first red flag to alert you all is not well on this end.
- The scammer is usually too quick in trying to convince you he is legit. He might even give you some 'proof' as to his authenticity and will pester you to have these checked out.
- If you didn't believe in voodoo before now, you should. It happens, and scammers use it to back up their operations I didn't believe it myself until I witnessed a guy caught and exposed. In Nigeria, we call scammers 'Yahoo guys' and guys who use voodoo backings are called 'Yahoo Plus' or 'Yahoo Plus Plus'.
- The most common type of 'Yahoo Plus' or 'Yahoo Plus Plus' is the one dubbed 'talk and do,' which means you'll be manipulated to give in to their demands, and only come to your senses to realize the errors of your ways after the money has been sent.
Scam Secret to Beat These Guys at Their Game
Scammers exist everywhere, but to beat them at their own game, we have to be a step ahead; know how they operate, that way you know to deflect every 'scheme' that's brought at you.
Types of Scam
Here are a few scam types to look out for:
1. Dating and Romance Scam
This is the most common scam type on this side of the world. Scammers in Nigeria see this as the least stressful means of getting money from these unsuspecting victims.
They usually prey on lonely women looking for love. However, quite a number of these women aren't exactly lonely but get sucked in by these men who have perfected the act of romance and would give Romeo a run for his money.
They spend a lot of time being loving and devoted to you. Over time, you find yourself coming to trust him and fall in love with him.
Soon, he starts to bring up stories of how he's talked with his mother, even showed her a picture of you and how she came to also fall in love with you.
Some will get a woman to stand as his mother and you'll get sucked in deeper into the whole game.
Soon though, the stories start to crop up: how his mom is really sick and needs an urgent operation worth thousands of dollars to save her life, how he needs a certain amount of money (usually huge) to facilitate a part of his business and how his own cash is tied up in some investments that won't be maturing for the next six months, or how he desperately wants to visit you but his own cash isn't readily accessible.
Of course, it's a loan he's asking for, and he'll pay you back in a month. With these touching stories, you can't help but gather up your life savings and send them to the love of your life. After all, it's your future mother-in-law you'd be saving or your financial future you'd be securing.
Soon, one month elapses and instead of paying back the loan as promised, he requests another, as the first wasn't enough to completely offset the bill. Of course, you'll be getting both back as he's quite sure of the deal this time.
Sometimes, if you aren't fast enough to catch on to the fact you're dealing with a scammer, you could end up sending a few more 'loans' before Romeo pulls the disappearing act on you and blocks you on all social media platforms.
2. Unexpected Inheritance
This scam method is old and a lot of people are catching on to it. However, it still works every once in a while.
You get a mail in your inbox about a certain man, usually from UAE, Switzerland or some other exotic place, telling you how he suddenly came into an inheritance worth millions. The money is usually 'stuck,' and requires a certain amount of money to get it 'unstuck,' and this is where you come in.
You are expected to send the required processing fee, at the end of which you get the lion's share of the investment (like anyone would let go of that huge a percentage in the first place).
Again, this scam method is hardly successful these days and is fast dying out.
3. Buying and Selling
Operators of this scam method live and breathe on large ecommerce sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress.
They upload images of supposed products up for sale and end up getting unsuspecting victims.
Of course, reporting these scammers doesn't make that much difference as they are quick to open a new account as soon as the first is closed down.
4. Credit Card Scam
This is another scam method that has Nigerian guys at the forefront. These guys get your credit card details one way or the other and use these for online purchases or to commit fraud.
With this method, not only do they scam you of your hard-earned cash, they also put you under a whole lot of risk as these frauds would get traced to you.
5. Get-rich-quick Investments
This scam method is targeted at individuals who are seen as greedy ( I say this without apology). The scammer comes up with an offer that seems too good to be true. For instance, investing $100 and getting up to a $1000 in three days.
True to form, most times after making these investments, you get the promised amount in three days time. With this, you are guaranteed you're on to a good thing, which shouldn't be passed up and you invest a higher amount to get a higher ROI. This is where the investment company disappears into thin air with no trace whatsoever. God help you then if the money invested was a loan or one that belonged to someone else.
How to Guard Against Getting Scammed
Scammers will always be around plying their 'trade', but you can protect yourself from their claws through any or some of the following ways:
1. While you can't completely avoid online dating sites, you should protect yourself as much as possible. Insist on a meet after a few weeks of connecting with any guy so you can put a face to the 'personality' formed.
Also, keep all financial details to yourself, even after months of dating. If your boyfriend comes up with tales of needing cash (especially if you have yet to meet), show some sympathy and empathy and assure him you'll be praying he gets the needed cash from your end.
You should also have him checked out. Do a reverse search with his profile pic to be sure he truly is the person in the picture and it isn't just an image he picked up from the net.
2. Always let a lot more people in on your relationship; two heads are better than one and women make the best private investigators you can think of.
3. Always listen to your gut. Nine times out of ten, it is right and will keep you out of trouble.
4. Always ignore every claim of unexpected inheritance, even if promised a 100% reward.
5. When buying items on sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress, always buy from a seller with tons of sales and with a rating of over 95% (never, ever go down on this figure. It has to be a 95% positive review).
Check out the comments dropped as this will not just ensure you don't get scammed of your cash, you'll also know to avoid sellers that upload images that are way better than the products they have on offer.
5. Keep your credit card details safe and only make purchases on sites that are secure.
6. If an investment scheme sounds too good to be true, it usually is. You should give it a wide berth.