The Scammer

By Anock Enock

I have been dreaming of going to Britain all my life and I hope that one day I will be there. The curiosity of being in Britain came  when I was in secondary school. I had studied about the history of  Great Britain and this triggered something in me, that no matter what I have to go there. I am very obsessed with the UK/ Great Britain because I believe this is where my future can become brighter. There are so many job opportunities that I can get and at the end of the day, I can help my family with the money that I can be earning after reaching Britain. I dream about getting a job in a managerial position and it would be easy for me to get it in Great Britain. With the dream of going to Britain, an opportunity presented itself in 2019. A very good friend of mine approached me with a deal of being resettled to the United Kingdom. It was as if he knew how much I loved Britain and how much I dreamed of it. I remember this day very well, as if the event just happened an hour ago. He visited me at around 5pm when I was getting home from school. By then I was earning my diploma and that is where he and I knew each other. He found me in the sitting room watching a movie with my twin sister. I was very surprised since I did not expect any visitors at that time. I welcomed him and we started chatting, reflecting on how our day went. When it was around 6:30pm, he told me he was leaving and I had to escort him. On our way, he explained to me the main reason why he visited me. He told me that a trusted friend of his showed him an opportunity of resettlement for the United Kingdom. When he mentioned the UK, my heart skipped a little bit.


He continued explaining to me how the deal was supposed to be run and that it was not run by the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees in Malawi,rather it was the one from Europe. I was a bit confused and asked him if the deal was legit. He assured me that everything was legit and sent to my WhatsApp documents regarding the resettlement. I just browsed through them and told him I would look at them carefully while at home. We parted our ways and I went back home. It was around 8pm when I got home. The first thing I did was enter my room and open the documents to have a clear understanding of that program. I went through it and it indeed looked legit. I checked google about the organization and everything. Now I was convinced, however, there was an element that mentioned money that I was not comfortable with since I know that all the programs being run by UNHCR are free. I reserved my question for our next meeting.


In our second meeting, I demanded that I meet a trusted friend of his since I was very much interested and needed more clarity on things. We scheduled a meeting the same day with his friend, met and discussed the program. He was a very smart person and the way he responded to all my questions made me believe that the program was legit. On the issue of money, he told me I have to pay the $500 to make my resettlement process fast. He assured me that within 10 months I would be in the UK.  At this time, I was very convinced. I went straight home and pulled my twin sister into our bedroom to tell her of the good news. I had not told anyone about it since I knew about the program. I wanted to make sure that the program was legit before I started bringing other people into it. Convincing her was very easy since her ambition was similar to mine. She always wanted to go to France and being in the UK would make it easy for her.


We agreed that the following day we would explain it to my father so that he can help us with the money needed for the program. My parents, being people who always want to see their children progress in life, were easy  to convince them that the program was legit. We scheduled a meeting with the trusted friend of my good friend so that they can hear for themselves in person how the program was. After the meeting, my parents were convinced and accepted that they will pay the $500 dollar for each of us. However, we agreed with our parents that if we go to  the UK, we would look for jobs to sustain ourselves and be able to send something back home since we would be leaving our parents in total poverty.


The following week my father sold our one and only piece of land, and some livestock we had so that he could top up on the money he had to make it $600 dollars. Despite him selling all those things, he was still lacking $100 to make it $1000. He had to take a debt from our neighbor and promised to pay with interest. The process began, we started filling out forms. We spent most of our time with the person who was in charge of the program, as he was the only one who had contacts and links to those officials in the UK. Within four days, all the documents were filled out and ready to be sent by post office to their office. However, we had to deposit the $600 to their account first using only PayPal and none of us had the account. We went around to all the banks surrounding our area but we could not find any. The person in charge then suggested to us  a certain person saying he was the only one who would help us deposit the money without complications. At this point, I was confused and started getting suspicious as I started feeling that something somewhere was not right. How would a person living in such a local area be in connection with a person from the city with high position? I questioned myself a lot; however, I agreed to meet with that person in town so that he can help us.


My father, Hannah (my twin sister) and I started our journey to town. When we reached there, we met the person, to my father that man looked very suspicious. My father asked me if I was indeed ready to pay money through that man. I accepted even though my instincts told me that something was not right. While at the bank, my father could not stop explaining to me a story of a certain man who was scammed. I was upset with his non-stopping stories and demanded that we stop the whole process. He refused and said he was just letting me know that in our world today people are becoming scammers and a lot of them look innocent. The man deposited the money in his PayPal account and said he would send us a receipt via email since the process needed time. I gave him my email address and we parted. In the evening when I got home, I received an email from the person with a digital receipt. To me the receipt looked like something someone had just designed and sent to me. I showed it to my friend the following day and he assured me that the receipt was real.


The following week we went again in town to send the documents through the post office to their office. However, at this point they had given us the contacts of people from the organization who were taking us further with the process. Upon reaching the post office, we realized that we had not taken the address for the office. We called the numbers we were given and the address they were giving us were very suspicious. People from the post office said the address was incorrect several times and it really gave us a hard time to reach to a point of getting one. At this point I was tired, confused and I had given up. I would look at my twin sister and laugh due to the way she was looking. The laughter was not because of joy but stress.


Finally, we got home at 10pm very tired. We took a bath, ate and went straight to bed and we did not give any explanation to my father. We just pretended that things went well. Months passed by without hearing from them or receiving any email. After 3 months, I received a call from a new number at 3pm in the afternoon. At that time, I was sleeping. The caller introduced himself and mentioned my details too. I was not surprised since he said he was working with the organization on my case of resettlement. He demanded that I pay $100 through moneygram for me to continue with the process. Before I would ask any question he hung up. At this point, I was assured that these people are just messing with my mind while stealing from me. I immediately called my twin sister, before I could say anything she said I know what you want to tell me because I also received that call some seconds ago. I started hunting for that friend of mine who introduced me to the program but he was nowhere to be seen. He seemed to have moved with his friend from our area to another area. After two weeks, I came to learn that he and the friend had defrauded many people from my area. From that day going forward, I learned a lesson that not everything from a friend I have to trust.


When my father heard that I was scammed, he was so shocked and frustrated with the incident. He worked so hard and supported me but all the effort was in vain. My father decided to sell groundnuts to get back the money that he spent on the whole process. He is so creative and I love that, he makes sure to hustle so that the family can always maintain the same standard. So, he made the business of groundnuts and he managed to get the money he spent on me and still made profits as well. My father is a hard worker and the fact that he always wished me to have a brighter future, it gave him a good reason to spend every penny he had to make my dream of going to Britain come true even if it did not work out.


Though things turned out differently than the way I expected, my dream of going to the UK is still alive. My father has promised me that he will make sure that he supports me until my dream comes true. For the moment, we will now try something which is legit to avoid being scammed like before. I am looking for scholarships that will allow me to go and study in the UK. I learned a huge lesson after being scammed that I can’t allow myself to pass through the same situation. Once I get a scholarship, my father promised me that he will pay for my traveling documents. I believe that the money that he will spend on me this time around will not go in vain since I will be dealing with the university and not just an individual.

8 October, 2023