I may forget the date, but never the day. This happened a few hours ago and keeps playing over again in my head. That evening, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a post of my classmate’s in high school. It was a screenshot of how she invested some money and in return, made double the amount. I liked the post innocently, not knowing I was entering the lion’s den. Almost immediately, the “scammer” sent me a direct message and was going on about the process of this “investment”. Initially, I had my doubts but either the “scammer” was too smart or I was too dumb, I fell for it. I saw a friend’s story saying that the account of our classmate was hacked. I had a second chance to opt out, yet I went ahead and even borrowed money to complete the transaction. Now, I have to borrow additional funds to pay the person I borrowed from. How foolish of me! I feel awful, ashamed, in fact embarrassed. Although I cried my eyes out and I am still sober about this whole thing, I learned a few lessons from this experience.
First, do not give your details to an unsolicited caller, or reply to messages or emails offering financial advice or investment opportunities. In short, be suspicious of investment opportunities that promise a high return with little or no risk. There are no shortcuts to wealth. Whatever you do not work for does not last. Note also that any business or person that offers or advises you about financial products must be an Australian Financial Services (AFS) license holder (for those based in Nigeria). Hence, if you receive unsolicited calls, emails or messages, hang up or delete them immediately.
In addition, always seek independent financial advice before making any investment. When you know you are not sure of something, ensure you reach out to your friends or better still, someone who is older and more knowledgeable than you are in business, financial or investment issues. Think twice before doing anything and the second time you are thinking, make sure you think critically and strategically. Do not make hasty decisions. Ask yourself “ Is this sensible?” If it is a business or investment of any kind “ Is it logical?” and “ Is it legal?”
Lastly, understand that money is a come-and-go possession. It never stays full time. You can not keep the same amount in your pockets forever without spending it. Do not try to hoard money. In fact, that is why we keep working, so as to refill the money that has been spent. Money is meant to be spent, though wisely.
Anyone can fall prey to a scam, regardless of age, education, gender or economic background. Scams can have a devastating financial and emotional impact. Sadly, some people lose their entire life savings. Truly, experience is the best teacher even though it ended badly.
By: Victoria Oyebande
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