Aquick refresh of my Instagram feed and yet another heartbreaking tale of a Nigerian defrauding a white woman pops up; this time, he got caught hiding behind a fake profile on Facebook. As I shook my head in disappointment, my alarm blared off and reminded me that I had to get up and grind not just for my success but to prove that “We are not all criminals and genuine Nigerians aren’t extinct like dinosaurs.”
Nigerians and fraud
Over the past years, Nigerians have garnered a reputation for internet fraud. This reaction, although annoying, isn’t entirely the fault of the accusers. Some blame it on the struggles we face as a nation which has pushed young ones into the survival of the fittest; as insensitive as I might sound, I’d rather blame it on a lack of moral compass because sitting right at the core of the struggle are still hardworking Nigerians who “chose” to remain steadfast and legit in the face of struggle.
Proven data doesn’t lie
In the U.S, the FBI, also known by their official name Federal Bureau of Investigation, ranked Nigeria the 16th country most affected by internet scams in the world. The study reports that the FBI received a total of 5,679,259 complaints in 2020 and an average of 440,000 complaints per year. Fast forward to 2021, Nigeria has been ranked 2nd country globally, with reports of romance scams right after the Philippines. As the economy degenerates, more young people are signing up for “the scam life” such that it’s becoming fashionable to be identified as a “Yahoo boy/girl,” all to the detriment of unsuspecting humans. As a Nigerian, there’s a term often used called “double your hustle,” and while this might mean to a fraudster to increase his “client base” and beef up criminal strategies, it means to other well-meaning Nigerians to increase their intelligence and hard work alike.
According to St. Jerome: “The scars of others should teach us caution.” This quote isn’t cited to mock victims but rather a step towards equipping oneself in the awareness of these scammers’ modus operandi.
Who is susceptible to this fate?
- Older white persons (especially ladies) in search of love.
- Individuals seeking investment opportunities.
- Job seekers.
- Anyone in the digital space can fall victim.
Common types of internet scams.
Cryptocurrency scam—This is carried out by exploiting individuals hoping to invest in the new digital currency world by presenting fake investment opportunities.
Email– Links scam In this technology age, our emails and D.M.s are bursting with information. Avoid clicking on unverified links as they might be avenues put in place to sap your personal information and eventually create a virus on your device. Asides from stealing from you, your information could be used to apply for loans or your identity used as a front for other cybercrimes. It would be disastrous to be chased around for a loan you didn’t apply for or a crime you didn’t commit. Stay guided!
Fake job vacancies—As Nigerians, the dwindling economic situation (can’t be over-emphasized) has led to a hike in the unemployment rate, among other issues. These scammers pose as employers; the job seekers are asked to deposit an amount of money in exchange for a job kit or exposure to their client base. Once this payment is made, the scammers desert the job seeker.
Online shopping—Always vet a business before making a purchase; some individuals are experts in curating their social media feeds/websites with other people’s content. Once you make a deposit, the scammer blocks you. It’s at this moment you realize there was no product/service in the first place.
Romance scam—Signs your newfound boo might be a fraudster. This is the most common type of internet scam in the books. It might suddenly seem like your sought-after prince charming has finally surfaced, and love smiled at you from the heavens but look again.
#1. Things are moving too fast
Boy meets girl, and within a short period, this internet lover is professing undaunting love for his victim, so much that it’s borderline obsessive or surreal. True, we find love in the strangest places but be careful not to disclose personal information while whispering sweet nothings, and once they keep pushing for personal details: this might be a sign you’re dining with the devil, and you know what they say: “use a long spoon.”
#2. An emergency must break out
You are just getting used to your new love interest, and at the bat of an eyelid, financial emergencies spring up from money for plane tickets to come to visit you to cash for a business idea or hospital bills for a loved one. Note that there are a gazillion ideas that could emanate all in a bid to rip you off some cash. It’s a given; love covers a multitude of sins but stays woke.
Another sign would be the person never shows up after receiving the cash deposit. They just keep planning to show up but never really do. If you feel you’ve been scammed, report to your bank, the dating site in question, the FBI, or other legal authorities available in your region.
#3. All attempts to get personal on deck
If you notice a pushy attempt to get you off the dating site into a more personal space, you could create a new email to that effect. Avoid using your email and/or phone number to restrict access to personal data. Slow things down and do not flow on the rhythm of rush; it scarcely ends well.
Note: Cybercriminals are steadily emerging with innovative ways of defrauding individuals, but romance scam is still the most common. Hence, the focus of this write-up tends to tilt towards this form of scam.
Not all Nigerians are a scam—Yes, for the love of safety, “be cautious.” It’s wise to set boundaries with strangers and restrict access to certain information but wearing individuals out with suspicious and undermining statements isn’t fair either. Being a hardworking Nigerian is enough stress; bearing the brunt of our faulting counterparts is enough emotional trauma for one to constantly straps on the shoulders.
Fighting stereotypes—As a Nigerian, I’m well aware of these horrendous crimes and do not condone any of them. Nonetheless, to unfairly categorize an entire nation filled with millions of people negatively isn’t precisely the way to go either.
Nigerians are known to possess can-do energy, and when you experience one who is dedicated to genuine personal growth, it’s uphill from there on, and you have an asset in your hands. Do not let your past experiences rob you of this.
As a content / social media manager working across time zones and still finding a way to manage the home front as a wife and mother, through my journey now, and then I encounter these unfortunate stereotypes, and as a passionate writer, I choose to use my words to fight stereotypes. I decided to enlighten individuals through this article because many more legit Nigerians like me strive in their various careers.
Internet fraud is strongly linked to Nigerians, but best believe these youths who take to it are a lesser fraction of Nigerian youths. It’s been reported in the news that some of these cybercriminals hide under the identity of Nigerians to commit these crimes. For a different perspective, take a stroll through the country’s streets, and you’ll be surprised at the number of youths who put in the work in different spheres of society believing “there’s dignity in labor.”
“Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause. Guide our leaders right Help our youth the truth to know In love and honesty to grow And living just and true Great lofty heights attain.” To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.” ~Nigerian National Anthem (Second Stanza).