It all started when a call came in to my wife's phone on Sunday evening (September 5, 2010) around 10pm. It was from a friend of mine, Ayo, asking about my whereabouts. Apparently, he was chatting with someone who referred to himself as Seun Akisanmi. This "Seun Akisanmi" had logged into my yahoo email acount (firstname.lastname@example.org) and sent the following message to the 300+ email contacts in the account. The message read
"Hope you get this on time: Sorry I didn't inform you about my trip to the United Kingdom. I'm presently in Scotland and am having some difficulties here. I misplaced my bag on my way to the hotel where other valuable things were kept including my passport. I will like you to assist me with a loan of $2,500 to sort out my hotel bills and to get myself back home. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with and I promise to Refund the money as soon as I return. Let me know if you can be of any assistance.
Please reply A.S.A.P.
Ayo was calling to confirm from my wife if indeed I was in Scotland. I talked with him and came to the conclusion that someone, MR EMM, had hacked into my email account, changed the password (so that I cant even log in to change it), deleted my alternate email addresses (email@example.com & oluwaseun @ebuyng.com) and replaced it with his email address "firstname.lastname@example.org"
I was shocked. About 40 minutes later I got a call from my sister abroad, Titi, confirming the same report. What made this obvious to many of my friends (and hopefully to anyone reading this) that it was a 419 scam was the fact that I would not have forwarded such a message with the email addresses of almost everyone I know showing in the header. Secondly, I would not request for assistance in Dollars when I'm "stranded" in a country that uses Pounds Sterling. Thirdly, I'm not one thats quick to borrow money from anyone. Three of my friends that realized that it was a scam were able to play along with him. On Monday September 6, one of them, my other sister Tolu, explained to MR EMM that she did not have any dollar currency to send but would appreciate it if he can provide her with his naira account so that she can deposit some money into it. Being the desperate greedy fellow that he is, he was quick to respond with a Zenith bank account number 4017209827 belonging to Muhammed Yusuf. He went a step further by providing the number we should call his "associate" on to confirm once the money has been paid. The number is 08089370180. I sent an email to Yahoo notifying them of what had happened and got an automated response indicating that they will get back to me within 24hrs. Its been more than 60hrs and I'm yet to hear from Yahoo. Or maybe they meant to get back to me within 240 hrs. I'll check their response again. I thought to myself that this was a breakthrough. At least with this information, I could contact Zenith Bank & with their help we could track the fraudster that is being stranded in Scotland. So I decided to go to the Zenith Bank branch at Allen Avenue/Toyin Street Junction in Ikeja. I explained the situation at hand to the customer service representative I met at the desk & was referred to the Head of Operations. He was sympathetic with me and tried making some calls to the account officer of the account in question. He told me he would follow it through and that I should drop my contact details with him. I was impressed with the way he took up the case although I doubted whether he would actually follow up the matter. I decided to take it a step further by reporting the case to the authoritative body that I felt would do something about it, the EFCC. On tuesday morning, September 7, I set out to go to EFCC. But before I left, I decided to report the issue again to another Zenith Bank branch that was closer to me. The branch is situated on Agidingbi Road, Ikeja. I was directed to someone they referred to as the "Resident Auditor". After the situation was explained to him I was shocked to discover that I was being questioned as if I was the fraudster. He argued that Zenith Bank has a confidentiality agreement with its customers and they can not reveal any information to me; that anyone can just walk into the bank and make such claims. I affirmed that I was not requesting the Bank to give me the person's details or identity; I only wanted them to be aware of the situation so that they could launch an investigation into the matter and, with the help of the POLICE, question the account holder, Muhammed Yusuf. I left the Agidingbi Branch with a heavy heart. I was disappointed that my case was not even heard in its entirety before I was being considered a suspect. After placing a disclaimer on my facebook page about the situation, I proceeded to go to the office of the EFCC. At last, I thought within, I would approach an organization that would do something about the whole situation. I got to EFCC's office around 1:45pm and was not too happy with the quality of customer service rendered me. I was directed to the Head of Operations Office where a lady attended to me while simultaneously eating her lunch. I submitted the petition they asked of me and was expecting that the petition would be read and the issue addressed. I was shocked when they stamped it and filed it and told me that they'll get back to me. I explained to them again the urgency of the matter and that the hacker was still chatting with some of my contacts with my account. I was told that they get cases like mine all the time and that they will get back to me. "When will you get back to me?", I asked. I was told not to worry that they'll get back to me. In my heart I hoped that it won't be next year before I hear from them again and could not shrug off the notion that they could not help people like me. I mean its not a situation in which someone embezzled N10billion so it is probably not much of a priority. I was disappointed especially at the fact that I could leave the office of an organization I felt could resolve this type of issue and still feel unsatisfied. I was disappointed. I felt the ball was now in my court and was mandated to do my own investigations to resolve the case. Afterall its my name that MR EMM is using to propagate this scandal. Upon further investigations, I discovered that the Zenith account that was in question was opened in Zenith's branch at Ogunlana Drive in Surulere. I decided to head there straightaway before they close by 4pm. Once again, I explained the situation to one of the staff and requested that I speak with the Head of Operations. I was referred to a woman who sympathized with me when I explained the whole situation. Upon their requisition, I gave them the account number in question. I was asked to wait for about 10 minutes while she discuss the matter with the Branch Manager. I was shocked when she returned with two more staff who questioned me as if I was the fraud. The first question I was asked was whether or not I had an account with them. When I said no, I witnessed a change in attitude towards me. They emphasized that I don't know for sure that the account holder, Muhammed Yusuf, is guilty of any crime and that they can not divulge any information regarding him to me due to their client confidentiality agreement. Once again, I explained that I was not requesting that they divulge any information to me. I was only requesting that they investigate the matter, in conjunction with the POLICE, and make sure that no innocent friend of mine falls victim to this fraud. Besides, someone still called me around 2pm and was teling me he got the email and was about to pay some money to the guy. I gave them a copy of the petition I filed with EFCC and my contact details. I asked for the contact details of the Head of Operations and was surprised at the cold shoulder I got in response. All of a sudden, I've become a suspect in my case. I felt so heart-broken. THANK God I'm not an account holder with Zenith; I probably would be experiencing this level of customer service more often. Who else could I report such a case to and be taken seriously. Who else apart from God. I was adviced by some not to even bother reporting to the POLICE because that would complicate matters. I was heart-broken. Is this the level we've gotten to in Nigeria. We cant even trust each other. Maybe if I had gone to all these places with an entourage of 5 bodyguards, with each one of us wearing suits and ties made by T.M. Lewin, they might have taken it more seriously. Upon further investigation i realized that this same type of fraud was perpetuated by fraudstars using a Zenith account number belonging to one of their "confidential" customers last year. The victim in that case happened to be my aunty in Osun state who had to borrow N280,000 to pay into the account. Zenith Bank denied any responsibility and refused to investigate the account holder (Oladotun Oyeleke account number 4118812647). I write this publicly to confront them on the matter.
I decided I was going to take this as far as I could go; especially if there's a chance this account might have been used to defraud others in time past. It was to my surprise when I got a call from a business centre at 8:33am today, September 8, 2010. You would not believe who called me. It was Muhammed Yusuf himself. I mean, the one & only Muhammed Yusuf. He accused me of wrongfully accusing him of defrauding anyone. I told him that was not my goal. Perhaps it might be someone he knows that's using his account to commit such atrocities. He was angry with me. I asked him to give me his real phone number so i could call him back & he refused, claiming that he doesnt know who I am. I explained to him that the matter had already been taken to EFCC and that it would be to his best interest if we can meet or talk to see how we'll resolve this. He said he'll call me back with his real number and I'm still waiting for the call more 10hrs later.
My purpose of writing this seemingly-long epistle is actually to get the attention of anyone (Zenith Bank Plc Senior Management, EFCC Head of Operations, Muhammed Yusuf's associates, Mr EMM) ANYONE, that can help resolve this matter and bring MR EMM to justice. As of the time of writing this, I've just regained control of my yahoo email account. I can be reached on 08023008873 if anyone has any information that would help resolve this case. The only other assisstance I reuire from anyone is not financial whatsoever in any nature. It this; I would appreciate it if you can forward this note (by whatever means you can) to as many people as you can so as to prevent any innocent person fromfalling victim to people like MR EMM. And to everyone who may still be concerned about my well being; Don't worry, I'm doing fine...I'm still based in ikeja & not stranded in Scotland.