Recently, I wrote about beggars in Lagos and I mentioned that they worry me; simply because of my unpleasant experience with them. Now it seems that I also have to worry about scammers.
First of all, here’s a major difference between beggars and scammers. Beggars play on your sense of empathy while scammers play with your head and intelligence. They don’t have to toast you for long like “Yahoo boys” in Lagos do. They can trick you in so short a time that; it is impossible to realise what has happened until long after.
I met one at an ATM gallery in Lagos. He was elderly and looked like a prosperous pensioner. He wore Papa’s cap and age-appropriate glasses. You could see his eyes through them. They seemed world-weary like they had seen it all.
He had a clean smile. I remember thinking this as he smiled at me. This was when I asked him if he was also in line to use the ATM. My harmless question must have earned me a “mugu” marker. In this Lagos!
When it got to his turn, he started to fumble with the machine. Thereafter, he turned to ask for assistance. As I was standing the closest, I stepped up to help him.
“What is your pin, Sir?”
“Which account do you use?”
Of course it’s a Savings account.
“Help me remove N1000, please. Only N1000”
I stood to the side to wait for the tell-tale grrrr of the machine when I finished. But when nothing happened, I looked in to check what had gone wrong.
“Insufficient Funds”. Hian.
I felt awkward and went ahead to check the man’s balance at his request. Folks, the man had only N126 and some kobo in his whole account. A Hundred and Twenty-Six Naira! I didn’t know how to feel.
He sighed deeply and started to tell me how somebody was supposed to pay N1000 into his account; and how he was surprised it had not reflected. He was looking so sad that I moved to pull out a thousand naira note from my wallet; just to assist him. This was when my ancestors whispered “Pause” in my ears.
A security guard later told me that the man hangs around that ATM gallery to try his luck; often on other unsuspecting users. Oh, the wave of annoyance that swept through me!
I want to be good and charitable. But you see this type of people, they make it hard. How do you give and then regret doing so because you find out it was a scam?
Thankfully, there are verified charities with websites and social media platforms. They connect you to people truly in need of help. But if you want to help a stranger, do so and let it go.
Because if you find out somebody has used your head like they nearly did me; your vex might just sour the good.