Cutting to the chase. Several times.

 

So to catch up: Bayo asked me to send him $1850. Because, while under the guise of a Uganda female celebrity – let’s say Crystal Kavulu, he got stuck in Nigeria, having fallen prey to some of its numerous thieves. After I fell just short of alleging that every single Nigerian above the age of four is a pirate, drug-dealer and /or mugger and that the few who are not engaged in those professions are prostitutes-in-waiting, he began to ask, fervently, that we focus our correspondence on this money. 

Last time we spoke, I told him I had just met Straka Mwezi with $1,500. It was meant to pay for her mother’s surgery.

Bayo, in a part of Nigeria, where no qualms or conscience exist, decided that that surgery money would be perfect for stealing. 

Dear Earnest,  

please I don’t have time, tell Straka Mwezi that I promise to make all refunds back to her. Please get back to me with the WESTERN UNION informayion including the MTCN number on the reciept. 

 Regards 

“As if Crystal”

 

I was appalled. That was the old lady’s surgery money! How depraved was this guy? 

And how cunning? I unleashed what sports enthusiasts will understand as the email equivalent of an ankle-breaker double-crossover a la those of Iverson:

 

But Crystal, even you you know very well that I can’t take the money to Western Union. You also know my situation full well. Isn’t there any other way? 

Let us see what that rascal will make of that.

And in about an hour and a half, I saw what the rascal had made of that. This: 

Yes I do know your situation. Please you can send someone to help you have it sent. that’s the only solution to my problem. Please.

He changed the subject quickly back to the money before he made any slip-ups that would betray the fact that he has no idea whatso about this situation of which I spoke.

And so I decided to throw him a bone, cut the gay banter and swing the metaphorical axe such that it cleaves into the chase. I replied: 

I will ask Sylvie Owori. Let me get back to you.

Then, two hours later I emailed: 

Hooray! 

Sylvie has gone and sent the money. It should be there by now. I am so happy. You will have it any time. 

 

I then left office for the night, leaving Bayo to stew overnight.

 

 

 

The next morning there was a hulking form leaning against my desk, its brow set sternly, and its fingers rapping impatiently against the wood. It wanted to know why I had sent the money but neglected to send the question and an MTCH number. 

I don’t normally enjoy office breakfast, because the sumbis are half air and the little bits of mincemeat rattle around inside, and that is disconcerting, but this morning there were sausages, too. Delish.

I dashed off a random ten-digit figure and sent it off. 

Oh! 

The question is where you born. and the number is 3 815 984 498. Good luck. We are hoping to have you back very soon. Matembe is even worried about you. What made you go to Nigeria so soon after the wedding? I hope you are safe. 

 I should have bought some milk to go with this tea. I think I shall buy some milk powder. But guys from Vision Voice radio might hear that there is milk and launch raids on my office…

From: Nigerian scam Hq@mapikindetief@yahoo.com 

I have been to the western union location and i could not pick up the money,could you send me the full information used in sending the money,i am there waiting now.Send me the name used in sending the money and the Mtcn number again.Thank you very much. 

This was turning out to be a really good day. I imagined Bayo with a darkness over his countenance from the ego sting that came after the Western Union girls gave him suspicious looks when he went to collect money that wasn’t there. Under a girl’s name moreover.

I hope they were cute. A man can be dissed, but you don’t want to be dissed by someone you are admiring.

What? But Sylvie went there yesterday! I gave her the cash myself! $2,000! Let me call her and find out what is wrong. 

And with that, I tripped off for Lunch with the cool kids. You guys have got to get yourselves some Nigerian scammers. They do wonders for the general mood. It lifts the spirits to rarefied heights to think of them scurrying around scraping and scratching for money that only exists in your imagination.

He sent email after email requesting updates. I happily ignored them. And then after a couple of days, I finally replied. With the crushing news.

My sister! I don’t know what to do! We cannot find Sylvie anywhere at all! She has disappeared with the money!  We went to her hostel and she had even packed her things! We went to the boyfriends place and he has also vanished! The police are looking for them! Oh I don’t know what to do! 

I was so into the role as I typed that bit, that I am sure I even did the hip-slap thing they do on Ebonies shows. Like maama-nyabo! We were in a terrible situation. Not only was Crystal stuck in Nigeria, where I as if suspected that she had already been targeted by cannibals, I had just been robbed of two grand, which meant that Straka’s mum would not be able to have her operation. This was terrible news.

I guess you can’t take it all in at once. You have to pick what you are going to be worried about. And Bayo picked. His money. To be worried about:

Your mail was seen and your points noted but i still need the money,s it is now i can not wait till they find her,please find a way and send me another money,when am bck we can sort things out.Let me hear from you immediatly so i know what i am doing

But, what the…

But Iwe? What do you want me to do? I am here suffering! I have just lost two thousand pounds, moreover which I borrowed from Straka of all people!  

And to make it even worse, Sylvie has gone missing! What do you expect me to do now? Do you want me to sell your property to get the money? 

I was being sarcastic, but clearly the non-Crystal thought this might work.

Yes if it has come to that please do. I can’t stand staying here anymore. Please get back to me and don’t worry once I get back I will give you your money back.

And so as if got in touch with Nvannungi, who has always been envious of Crystal’s car. If Crystal will let me sell it… And that is where we are right now. I stopped hearing from the scammer after that. But I just sent a message from a different address offering to buy the car. Let’s see what happens.

Bayo the Phisherman and the email scam

I am inclined towards the idea that the Nigerian scamster who attacked me last week was in fact Bayo Okoh. I have no evidence to prove this, but the more I think about it, the more plausible it looks. Consider that the bearlike Big Brother oaf didn’t get a lucrative job co-hosting Studio 53 after the reality show ended so he has to be looking for money somehow. The prosecution rests. It is Bayo scamming me.

Big Brother's Bayo Okoh is a Nigerian stereotype. Probably the one sending these emails

Also, I stand corrected. The term is not hacking, it is phishing. I stand corrected not because I easily surrender to technical pedantry, but because that gives me the opportunity to refer to my email correspondent as Bayo as a phisherman.

Before we proceed with the tale, I need to re-conceal the true identity of my celebrity friend. So this time I shall disguise her as… um… who else rocks? Um… Juliana. Because, once again, it is not Juliana. And now, on with the show…

 

Juliana. Not the one
Juliana. Not the one

Bayo did not pick up on the dubious discordance between my greeting (wherein I referred to “her” as my sister) and my signing off, (which I did as her “uncle”), so eager was he to get his large mitts off the weatherbeaten Lagos webcafe keyboard and onto some sweet easy non-earned money. He typed furiously back, and I had a new message within hours.

To: EBazanye@newvision.co.ug 

Subject: Re: Urgent Response Needed 

Hello Earnest, 

Thanks for everything, I was to have a business meeting here in Nigeria before all this happened, I don’t know if it was all planed before i came. Please just help me send what you have so I can make plans to leave here. Immediately I receive the money i will process the emergency travelling document. I need to get out of here as am not feeding well. Once again thanks for you concern waitng to here from you ASAP. 

thank u. 

“Julianna”

 

I always bristle slightly over that misspelling of my name, but my annoyance dissipated as I thought of Bayo reading the tirade against Nigerians I had sent, and being forced to weather it silently. 

I think his reply was his way of reeling me in gently. He clearly wanted to say: “Yeah. Whatevs. The cash. Send the cash!” but he had been taught at Scam Camp never to jump the gun. 

“You have to tease your mark in, Bayo,” the instructor had probably said. “Lead them in gently. Don’t let yourself come off sounding too eager at first. Offer some form of nicety.” 

Hence the alleged business meeting in Nigeria and his pause to wonder if this was the culmination of an international conspiracy against “Juliana”.

I figured that the process of gentle in-reeling is not a rapid one and so I could drag things out a bit, too. 

My sister in Christ, I am working on the money. I put a call through to Amos, but I was told that he is still in court. However, I am sure he will respond soon. If he doesn’t, I will ask Kashoma to advance me some. By the way, Matembe has told me to ask you whether they stole your methamphetamines when they stole your property. She is very very worried. She says don’t buy drugs from  Nigerians. They are unhygienic and besides, they are all witchdoctors. Be strong, sister. Any time now I will be communicating with you.

 

I was sniggering like a four-year-old watching I.R. Baboon as I hit Send. I was very eager to know what he would make of the “discovery” that he had stolen the email of somebody trafficking meth. Would he panic? Or would he soldier on like the brave and solid warrior he truly was?

 

I r baboon
I r baboon

 

He soldiered on. Like the slimy thief he truly was.


To: EBazanye@newvision.co.ug 

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:30:13 +0000 (GMT) 

Subject: Re: Urgent Response Needed 

Dear Earnest, 

Yes they did, they took it alone. thats why I need to get out of here ASAP. Please just help me send what you have so I know were I stand. Thanks for everything and tell Matembe not to worry that everything will be fine. waiting for you reply. 

thank u. 

“Juliana”

I noticed how deftly he had phrased this letter. He dismissed the loss of the drugs in such cavalier fashion that I wondered if he even knew what methamphetamines were. He was not going to bother his head with that big word. He wanted to focus on the money.  

I opened my desk drawer and removed a box of inverted commas. Then I said to the screen, I will “send” the “money” soon, my “friend” who is “trapped” in Nigeria. As soon as I’m through laughing at you telling me to tell Miria Matembe that her drug mule says her drugs are safe.

That evening I wrote back with the news that I had been on the phone with our old friend Mike Olawale (a name I just grabbed off Naijarules.com), who had agreed to give her the money in person. He was in Lagos and if she would tell him where she was, he would bring two grand over. Cold cash. 

I threw in a little lifeline—I referred to Mike as her ex-boyfriend.

The fake Julianna replied with what sounded like rising desperation: 

Earnest, Please collect the money from Amos and have it sent to me via western union in the morning so i can make arrangments and leave in the eveing because it’s the best solution to my problem now. I didn’t want mike to know about it. It’s about 8:00pm now and I have not eaten anything today. Please Earnest just have the money sent that way.

“Non-Juliana”

Clearly things were, as they say in Kampala, if not in Lagos, getting tight. Time for a lucky break.

Juliana, my sister! Hallelujah! I have got the money! 

Amos is still in court. But while I was trying to get in touch with him, I mentioned your situation to Straka Mwezi and guess what? She had some money in her hands right there and then! She was going to take it to the hospital to pay for her mother’s surgery, but I told her how you are in such danger in NIgeria of all places, so she agreed to give me the money on the condition that you pay it back as soon as you return, so her mother can have the operation.

I have $1,500 right here with me! Now just tell me how I can send it to you! 

 

And I could see Bayo smile.

An email From Nigeria requesting money

 

In my capacity as the current sitting Ernest Bazanye, Fresh Prince of the Showbiz Press, I often find myself in the company of glamorous and talented people. I hope you don’t hate me for this. I assure you that even though I be rolling wit da stars like dat, I remain very down to earth and will never forget my roots. In fact I spend a lot of time in those roots. Even though I spend that time name-dropping.

Some of the celebrities I meet are insufferably vain and odious. Others are just normal people who happen to sing or dance or act or deejay or TV-present very well and can be pleasant and affable people when you meet them at a cocktail event sponsored by a beer or phone company.

Some of them turn out to be so nice that they will send you spiralling to depths of gut-churning guilt because of all the mean things you said about them in your newspaper articles. Or your blogs. Like Doreen Kayongo and Melanie, just to mention two.

 

 

Doreen Kayongo, fifth Best TV presenter 2004 in a New Vision poll. Hated on by sections of the press
Doreen Kayongo, fifth Best TV presenter 2004 in a New Vision poll. Hated on by sections of the press

 

I truly believe that no one in the business of entertaining the public is above criticism, but I really feel bad about saying those things about Doreen Kayongo and I am so so so sorry. So sorry. I like you.

There are some, though, who we can all respect and admire for the ass they kick, such as the celebrity in this story. Even though we are not bossom buddies and I am not likely to be a part of her wedding entourage, we are acquainted well enough: I am a big fan and she doesn’t find me repulsive. No, I am not going to tell you who she is. What about. Let’s say she is, um… Karitas.

No, it is NOT Karitas, that is why I am saying it is. If it was Karitas, I would say it is someone else. Like Marcus Kiryowa or someone. Go face.

On the 13th of October I received the email below:

How are you? Hope everything is ok? I just want to know if you can be of help to me.Something terrible happened to me on a trip i just made to Nigeria. I was robbed of all my belongings at the hotel i planned to stay in and i also lost my cell during the incident which makes it impossible for me to reach out to people at home. I have spoken to the Embassy andthey are not responding to the matter effectively. 

Please i need you to lend me about $1850,you can help me have it sent via 

Western Union Money Transfer so i can re-arrange myself and return back home. I will surely refund the money back to you once i get back. Below is the information you might require in sending me some money. 

Name: Karitas Karisimbi 

Please, kindly let me know if you can be of assistance as I’m seriously in need of your help. Thanks and waiting to hear from you 

Regards Karitas Karisimbi.  

 

Most of you can see instantly that that this is nothing but a load of Nigerian 419  scamsterism. It makes no sense. First of all, anybody who knows me well enough to borrow money from me knows me well enough to realise that I have never even been in the same philosophical region as $1,850 ever, and so, if they were stuck in Nigeria, they would ask me to send prayers to God, not send money to Western Union. 

 

has got money. And your ticket out of Abuja
$teve Jean: has got money. And your ticket out of Abuja

At the very least, they would ask me to call Steve Jean for them. Steve is rich. Steve knows what $1,850 looks like. He probably has $1,850 in his sock right now. 

Things that fell out of Steve Jean's sock
Things that fell out of Steve Jean's sock

 

 

For those of you not acquainted with 419, it is the legal code in Nigeria for emails that lie to people and con cash out of them. Usually the scammers claim to be Foday Sankoh’s nephew and want to give you 45 million dollars in exchange for your bank account number, but this scam is different. They hack into your email address, then send messages out to everyone in your address book, claiming to be you, trapped in hellish, perfidious, treacherous Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt or Kamwokya and in dire need of fast cash to purchase an escape.

It is people like these that give Nigerians a bad name. People like these and Bayo.

 

Big Brother's Bayo Okoh is a Nigerian stereotype. Probably the one sending these emails
Big Brother's Bayo is a Nigerian stereotype. He is probaby the one sending these emails

 

Have you, my dear readers, ever met a Nigerian? One thing about them is that they hate the generalisation (and I do realise that I just generalised). The idea that Nigerians are thieves must be as offensive as, well, being instantly associated with Idi Amin once you identify yourself as a Ugandan.

So, with this in mind, I responded to the email.

From: Ernest Bazanye <EBazanye@newvision.co.ug> 

Subject: Re: Urgent Response Needed 

Date: Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 12:20 PM 

 

Oh my gosh. Karitas, my sister! You are stuck in Nigeria! That is terrible! 

I hear that Nigerians are merciless thieves and that the place is very insecure. I don’t even know what made you go there, to a country of criminals. Nigerians are nothing but crooks. No wonder they stole all your belongings. 

I hope you are okay. Sit tight and don’t worry. I am going to call Amos Nzeyi and I will have that money ready in a few hours. You know he owes me cash, anyway. In the meantime, don’t trust anybody you meet there. Let me get on right now. 

Uncle Ernest

 

And because blog posts are never ever ever supposed to go above 1000 words, I’ll take a commercial break now. Oh, yes, he replied…