The Tinder Swindlers and Anns of the world are scattered amongst us. Sometimes they’re disguised as Instagram vendors, other times as friends we’ve known for a long time. In this article, eight Nigerians shared their stories of being scammed. Trust Nigerians to bring their own werey to the mix. 

1. “It could have been jazz, but I’ll never know”

— Ben, 28

In  2005, I was 10 and living in Mushin. My grandmother sent me on an errand. She used to sell provisions and wanted me to go buy coconut snacks we used to eat back then — I’ve forgotten what it’s called. She gave me ₦1k and I was off. The whole day started on a bad note: first, an okada hit me while I tried to cross the road from my house. It wasn’t serious, so I kept going. At the next junction, the same thing almost happened again. I was already stressed. 

As I got to the market, an elderly woman stopped me. She asked me to help her buy groundnuts while she held my money for me. I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I obliged. By the time I came back, the woman had gone. I didn’t even know what to do. When I went back home, grandma just told me it was jazz. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it was my first taste of the lies Nigerians tell.

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2. “I searched for the store for hours and never found it”

— Annie, 25

In 2016, I suffered because of an Instagram page. I was in 300 level and there was a promo for wigs happening. It was a buy one, get one free promo. The wigs cost ₦20k each, so getting two for ₦20k didn’t seem like a bad deal. I got four of my friends to join me so we could rock the new wigs together. So as a group, we paid ₦100k. The vendor told me the package would arrive in three weeks max. It never did. I had four girls on my neck and it wasn’t funny. I kept calling and sending the vendors texts. 

When she finally responded, she told me to come to the address on her page. She mentioned losing someone in her family and struggling to stay focused. I understood. Next thing, I was on my way to Lagos Island. I got to the address and the building was just a warehouse. I trekked around for at least an hour hoping to find a building with her store name. Nothing. I kept calling the number and it wasn’t reachable. That’s how I had ₦80k gbese to cover.

3. “She tried to frame me for fraud”

— Yetunde, 53

In 1999, I worked at the bank. I was 26 and quite naive at the time. As one of the youngest people at my bank, it was easy for me to make friends. I got closer to one of the older women. She seemed very interested in my life and gave me tips on getting through hectic days at the bank. Sometimes, we’d end up hanging out on the weekends. She seemed pretty harmless. 

Who would have thought she’d try to frame me for fraud? She felt I was getting too close to one of the customers. But rather than talking to me about it, she went straight to the branch manager and told him I had plans to defraud the bank with my lover. She claimed I had been signing off on unauthorised cheques to grant him access to more money than he had. Why did she do this? I have no clue. I only got out of the situation because of a co-worker that knew the customer personally. When he heard the matter, he spoke up for me. If that didn’t happen, I would have lost my job.

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4. “I can’t tell my kids I lost ₦3 million to crypto”

— Lucy, 46

My kids had been telling me about crypto and I decided to try it in 2021. I didn’t want to ask them for help though. I felt I could figure it out on my own. A friend had gifted me ₦3 million, so I decided to give it to a guy that always talked about crypto. A month went by and there was no feedback from the guy. I asked him what was going on and he just kept putting me off, saying something about the dip. It’s been a year and I haven’t heard from him. He conveniently resigned while I went on leave. I didn’t make too much noise because it wasn’t the money I worked for. I didn’t tell even told my kids because I’d never hear the last of it.

5. “Instagram hackers fooled us”

— Sandra, 24

My mum and I knew someone on Instagram. He was a direct friend and randomly posted about getting ₦20k for ₦5k. He wasn’t into money doubling, he just claimed he had done it with some guy. I sent a dm and he told me it was legit. Since we knew him, it was easy to trust. When I sent the money, he also asked for ₦5k bank charges to send the money. At this point, we should have noticed the red flags, but we didn’t. We sent the money. After a few minutes of texting back and forth on when the money would be sent, he blocked me. Turned out that the guy we knew had been hacked. 

6. “I thought he was in danger, so I sent the money”

— Daniel, 30

A friend called claiming to be at the police station. He sounded disoriented and needed ₦15k to settle the officers with credit or cash. The number didn’t have a name, but I felt the voice was familiar. I didn’t even think twice. I bought the airtime and sent it straight to the phone. About a week later, I saw the friend I assumed was at the other side of the call and asked him if he was okay after the “incident”. He was confused.

7. “Computer Village has always been a mad place”

— Daniel, 37

10 years ago, I went to Computer Village to buy a phone. I met a guy on the street and we settled for ₦38k. He handed me the phone. When the guy counted the money, he was claiming it wasn’t complete. So he asked me to hand him the phone while I re-counted to confirm. I did and as expected, it was complete. When I told him, he said it was a mistake on his part. He handed me back the phone and disappeared into the crowd. When I finally checked the phone as I walked back to take a bus, the phone pack was loaded with dirt. I still don’t understand how he switched phones so quickly. I couldn’t even shout. The whole place was crowded.

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8. “The bus driver took off with my change”

— Yusuf, 28

Just this Tuesday, I was on my way to work. The bus fare from my house is ₦100 and I had ₦700 on me. I wanted more change so I gave the driver the ₦500 rather than the ₦200 note. When I handed him the money, I was focused on my phone, chatting away. I absent-mindedly asked for my change, but the driver didn’t answer. I wasn’t close to my bus stop yet, so I didn’t stress. I went back to chatting. When I got to my bus stop, I didn’t remember about the change until he was driving off. The one time I needed Lagos traffic, the whole roads were free. That’s how I ended up leaving ₦400 with the man — money that was meant to be for lunch. I’m still so angry.

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