I have thought about this issue for a while after talking with some of my two friends who lost quite a bit of money recently. After laughing myself off for a while and making sure my laughter doesn’t bring them more pain, I decided it’s only fair that I share this aspect of diaspora living that suddenly came to my attention.
Unlike back home where someone would force you into a corner and even point a knife at you in the dark murky streets of nairobi demanding your $5, in places like the US, people have moved past those barbaric ways of robbing people of money and are 10 times wise and heartless.
Suddenly when you leave the country, you will begin to see the divide between the two types of people in your life: Those real friends, and those seasonal friends. And believe me that it will be as clear as daylight how the texts will come in: “Niaje bro, long time”. Always know that no one has an excuse for popping into your life like a freaking ping pong ball if they never really showed any genuine interest in you in the first place. They are like a pimple on your face, such that the only thing that they will make you do is itch, and scratch the damn pimple until all that is left is an ugly blemish on your pretty face. They are like that, and don’t think otherwise, because that is where one of my friends took a wring turn into losing half of his semester’s allowances. The other friend who lost some money was just a blatant case of a toxic mixture of indecision, naivete and anxiety.
Case file #1: The Chargeback
Jay was seated at his dorm room when he received a text from a high school friend. He’s at first a bit hesitant to read and reply and decides to leave it alone. But he receives a second text, and a third one. The reason that Jay didn’t wanna reply was because he never really related in any way with the person texting him on the other end of the line: Ted. Ted rather much ignored him throughout the whole of Jay’s high school and would only turn to him for his assignments to copy and paste into his own book. That was the only relationship that they had. Hence, getting a text from him, now, after two years of finishing high school was bizarre.
Ted wanted to do ‘business’ with Jay. Ted, back in Kenya, told Jay that he had been working on pimping some cars for his road show in Dubai in a couple of months. Ted was to get funding from investors to sponsor him in his inquests. How cool, Jay thought. Jay couldn’t even wrap his mind around the idea that Ted, not such a serious person in high school, who pretty much slept throughout his four years , landed such a gig. Jay questioned himself, but the more Ted texted him, the more he dismissed any questions he had. Ted wanted Jay to send him his US account number and routing details. Jay would receive a cut from the transfers to his account. In other words, Jay was the middle man for Ted’s money between Ted’s US sponsors and Ted himself. What a deal, Jay thought, as he went ahead with sharing his details.
When the first rounds of cash flowed in, about $100, Jay was now convinced that this was actually the real deal, he quickly proceeded to transfer the money through PayPal to Ted from his bank account. In the next few weeks, Jay received close to $400 in total, of which he then proceeded to send to Ted, most of the money, and as a mutual ‘partner’ in the business, take his share.
However, close to a month after those transactions, when Jay was busy dealing with the rush of completing the school semester, he receives a notification from his bank that his account has been overdrawn. On checking his statement, he realizes that the transactions to his account, Ted’s money, are being reversed by the bank.
At this point, Jay was too angry with himself to even be angry, as he told me, he bought a packet of jumbo sized chips, and some soda, and threw himself into his bed for the next couple of days.
What really happened, I found out from my own personal research was that the funds transferred into his account were most likely fraudulently obtained, either stolen or illegally accessed, then transferred to Jay’s account. After Jay had sent the money to Ted, the actual victim of the fraud incident filed a complaint to the bank and his money was returned. However, the bank had to debit Jay’s account i.e. Perform a chargeback, as is commonly known in the US, and of which is legally right for them to do, in the case of fraud. So, in the end, Jay had a huge overdraft in his account for which he had to cover with his own actual money.
I bought him ice cream when I payed him a visit, and we eventually found a way to laugh about it, though in his eyes, he couldn’t seem to believe how he played the cards against himself.
Case File #2: Let’s do some Phishing
Now, I too wasn’t personally aware of the lengths and depths of this type of scam until Danny explained his tale on his trip to New York over one of the weekends.
Seated also at his desk in his room (I don’t know what it is with doing this action that attracts all sorts of evils ), with his lunch, and leisurely binge watching a series over one of this ‘free’ streaming sites, Danny is looking for the next episode of Game of thrones. When suddenly, a pop up window appears. I invoke you to let me take you through the exact same reaction that he explained transpired in those few minuted in his room.
The pop up window was one of these ad-like pages that came out of nowhere (You only know how much you dislike ads when you are in places like the US where nearly everything is advertised and it nearly feels like its as invasive as cancer). The page, also came with its own unending ‘soundtrack’: “Read the information carefully for you to proceed”.Danny immediately scrolled his mousepad, without a thought, towards closing that page, only, it wouldn’t close. He clicked twice, then thrice, then upon noticing that the page just wouldn’t go, he decides to give it a read, since it was clear to him that it was the only way he got rid of the damn page.
Danny was a bit tense this time when the literature demanded that he call the number on the screen for this page to go away. And like all horror movies we know, the characters in the plot, foolishly go into the haunted house, like silly little puppets under strings. But anyway, there would be no horror movies if the characters don’t go into the haunted house. Danny proceeded to call the number on the line. The person on the other end of the line was a woman, as he told me, and she clearly told him that the only way for him to get rid of the tab on his screen, was to … (I know you know what’s coming next… Money) send $250 through the tab on his screen. Yada yada yada, Danny ended up taking his laptop to the university’s IT department, after throwing out the window, his thanks giving and black friday shopping budget, just like that, in a span of five minutes.
When this type of pop up appeared on my laptop one day, seated in my room of course, I just stripped the poor laptop of it’s sources of life and living, the power, before resuming normal activities again, like nothing ever happened. I didn’t realize how deep the razor had cut, and maybe it’s coz I didn’t look at the wound. I didn’t pay attention to that pop up. Sometimes paying attention is the beginning of self-inflicted implosion
It’s a journey learning all these things, and I love my friends for making me wiser each day.
PS: Names are pseudonyms
Please share any other instances of the Fraud Politricks so that those who are not in the light may see.