Is that a really bad chat-up line or are you trying to scam me?

I’ve been receiving friend requests on Skype and Facebook from ugly white men whom I am pretty sure are African dudes attempting to pull a 419 scam on me.

In fact, I responded to one of them in Nigerian pidgin, whereupon he started laughing and asked me to add him (the real him) on Facebook. He was a Nigerian lad (by the name of Oluwa), operating from Accra (Ghana) and he said he would tell me why he’s trying his hand at scamming women but ‘not yet’. 

Today, I got two friend requests: one on Skype and one on Facebook.

The one on Skype was from a ‘Dave Neasmith’, from Calgary Canada.

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I asked him why he had picked such an ugly picture for his profile. That threw him somewhat.

ugly-pic

Two seconds after I sent that message, ‘Dave’ went offline.

Oh, I notice that the pictures these scamsters use are usually really blur. It’s like they can’t even be bothered to look for clear pics of random men online. But it might be that the pics are chosen because they aren’t clear – so that their victims won’t be able to do reverse image searches. Hmm, is that giving these scamsters too much credit? On one hand, you can’t be stupid to be a con artist, but on the other hand, these boys lie so badly that you think they can’t be very bright after all. However, the women they trick seem happy to believe the most obvious stories, so ….

The Facebook friend request I received was from Joe Smith, from Glasgow, Scotland.

joe-smith1

I did a reverse image search and found that he was also …

joe-smith2

… and …

joe-smith4

OK, I believe Darren Bysouth is the real thing. Starnow is an acting/modeling site and poor Darren’s pics are all there (yes, including the ones used in ‘Joe Smith”s Facebook account and in the Tweet from ‘Stephen Barry’), on his profile page, just waiting to be saved and used by scamsters 😦

Sigh.

The reason I’m even accepting these friend requests is because I’m curious to know how people actually get scammed. I mean, what leads someone to form a relationship with someone they’ve never met and to actually go so far as to send them huge sums of money.

The thing is, I can’t bring myself to play along for long enough to get to even the declaration of love part of the deal, let alone the part where these jokers are stuck in Senegal, or have broken a leg in a remote village in Zimbabwe and are asking me to transfer funds to them.

The sort of people I have been chatting (briefly) with (before I say something snarky and they twig that I’m on to them and block me) have not been the sort I would be friends with, let alone want as my boyfriends. They are very familiar from the first greeting and they make stupidly extreme pronouncements like ‘I want to be your true love’ and ‘I feel deep inside that I have known you all my life’ and ‘You look familiar and I am drawn to you’. Like, really?

From what I know of African men (after all, the love of my life is African), they feel strongly and deeply very quickly, and are not shy about stating their feeling baldly, but I find it really ridiculous to hear such statements coming from someone whom I’ve never ever met. However, I guess some the women (and men) who fall for such confidence tricksters must actually enjoy such attention.

I looked at Joe Smith’s Facebook friends and they were all unmarried women of a certain age – mid-30s and above. So, the scam artists who target women have identified those who fit this demographic as the ones most likely to be fooled by lies and empty promises.

Well, it’s a popular notion that single women over thirty are all ‘desperate’ to marry. Goodness knows my ex (Malaysian, born in Finland and educated in Belgium, Bangkok and the States) has called me desperate many a time!

I must say that a great many women the world over (and of all ages) are anxious to be married and who equate singlehood with failure. Why this is so is something I’m not going to go into right now. Or, actually, ever. But, if you’re reading this and really have no idea why many women feel worthless unless they’re married with children, Google is your friend.

And because Google is my friend and also because I am not totally ignorant, have a half-decent imagination, and a pretty well-developed social conscience, I don’t need Oluwa to tell me why he (and other men and women) are scamming on the Internet: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Also, pure greed, and lazy motherfuckers. And because it’s worked before and keeps on working.

To be sure, it’s mind boggling that anyone falls for these scams, but I am not going to dismiss anyone as desperate because I don’t think it’s simple and cut-and-dried at all.

P.S I have been meaning to read this book I Do Not Come to You by Chanceby Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. It’s set in Nigeria and is about a young man who is forced by circumstances to join an internet scam syndicate. I shall read it after I’m finished with Looking for Transwonderland, Noo Saro-Wiwa’s book about traveling in Nigeria. No, it has not put me off moving to Lagos. Not quite. Yet.

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