While I don’t comment on every social issues, there are ones I always feel I need to talk about. Hushpuppi is all over the news for internet fraud and before him, many others has been busted.
The disturbing part of this is the growing appeal people are having towards fraud.
I remember the day I was scammed of 30,000 Naira, it was actually my salary. I was looking for a means to invest it and get returns in a few months time after which I would use the money for what I had budgeted it for. The scammer impersonated someone I trusted and promised to be dealing on what I wanted to invest on.
I realized I had been scammed after I had made the payment out of trust thinking I was dealing with someone I knew. I recall how heartbroken I was, how I became so devastated that even a month afterwards I was still mourning the money. Though it would seem small to many, it was something I really worked hard for, it was my sweat!
It distablized by plans, disrupted my spending plans and made me run into some debts as I needed money to do something afterwards. I repeat, it would have been nothing to someone else but it was everything to me at that time.
On the ends of the scammer, he would be happy, he would feel smart and intelligent! It takes being smart to impersonate people, it takes being smart to truly hack through people’s account, tell a convincing story and scam people off their hard-earned money. It is this smartness that people often glorify about scammers.
We often try to excuse cybercrime and exonerate internet fraudster by saying “but he is very smart and intelligent”. We often use that line to plead that he doesn’t face justice, just because he is very smart and intelligent. I always meet young people who say “why arrest an internet fraudster and scammers? They can be useful outside the prison.”
But let me ask you, what exactly on earth doesn’t demand some level of smartness? Do you think they are smarter than Islamic extremist terrorists who have a large network of allies worldwide, who purchase weapons, kidnap people and commit all manner of crimes without being caught? Do you think that Fulani Herdsmen who have been killing farmers unnoticed aren’t smart?
Is it robbery that doesn’t demand smartness? Do you think armed robbers who rob banks successfully aren’t smart because you don’t see them on a computer? It always takes a level of intelligence to successfully commit certain crimes. Being smart doesn’t make crime look cute and it isn’t a reason to condone it!
Do you think internet fraudsters aren’t murderers? Do you know there are people who have committed suicide for that reason? Do you know there are people who were scammed of what doesn’t even belong to them, they drank poison just because they couldn’t stand the heat.
Do you know there are once rich families that have been rendered poor just because one man hacked through a corporate email, diverted funds and started living large, wasting money that he didn’t work for?
There is another line we often use exonerate fraudsters, we say “any way they also work hard, none is easier”. That’s not entirely true. Fraudsters don’t work hard, at least not harder than those they scam. For example, I was scammed of something I worked tirelessly for more than twenty days to get. Some businesses that took so many years, skills and funds to set up has been crumbled as a result of fraud under one day!
If fraud wasn’t easier, those engaged in it wouldn’t engage in it, they would have patiently built their own businesses, something they can be proud of but no, they target people who through perseverance have built businesses and they scam them!
This is why they spend it recklessly just as the French proverb says “Bien mal acquis ne profite jamais” which means “ill-gotten, ill-spent”. What would you say of Hushpuppi who spent N11.381 million ($28,350) in few hours at a Lagos Night Club in March 2017?
We also have a culture that seems to promote fraudsters. The popular Daddy Freeze was loud-mouthed in calling Pastors fraudsters because they collect tithe and offerings but he dined and wined with Hushpuppi, did a one-hour documentary on him while insulting other young Nigerians who questioned Hushpuppi’s wealth. He said stuff like
“Hushpuppi’s gateman earns N700,000 monthly while you are a houseboy earning N35,000…”
Who knows how many people Daddy Freeze has put under pressure? Since the arrest of Hushpuppi, he had gone silent! He needs to be arrested and questioned too! It is this culture of condoning fraud that uses statements like “but they are smart, they shouldn’t be jailed”.
Sorry, the rapist, the terrorist, the robber and all other perpetrators of crimes too are smart and intelligent people but more to their smartness is a deep ruthlessness and lack of concern for how many people they’ve sent to their early graves or even stalled the destiny of an entire generation.
No matter how many sleepless nights it took fraudsters to scam people off their hard-earned money, they didn’t work for it, they are thieves!
Moreso, they continue to foster a lack of trust for Nigerians in the international community. On the FBI website, there is a special page for Nigerian Letter fraud otherwise known as “419”. Are we going to say it is racism or media lies? The Nigerian scam is an art of its own.
I once did a job for an American and he was supposed to pay with Western Union. He trusted me because of my transparency but said that when one wants to make a payment from the USA to Nigeria via Western Union, there is always a conspicuous notification warning the person of fraud. He sent me a screenshot to prove it. This is what we have reduced Nigerians to.
Do you know that the largest case of online fraud in the history of the United States was majorly orchestrated by Nigerians? Invictus will likely be spending 20 years in the prison and all that he had acquired will be forfeited. Does that seem smart to you?
Do you think they are smart? I think they are ruthless.
Say no to fraud.