The internet among other inventions of man is one of the useful and greatest inventions that have really impacted on the world at large. The internet makes things easier and brings the world together in what seems like one room just at a click on a button. With the help of a computer or a smart phone, you are linked to any part of the world you choose to communicate to someone with ease.

The internet is filled with good and bad activities, but human beings never cease to increase the bad over the good.

Any website you need to visit on the internet, all you need is to open your address bar and type in, World Wide Web (WWW), the name of the website and dot-come and you are linked.

While the benefits from the internet, social media are numerous, the bad sides keep rising by the day.

My urge to write on this came urgently due to my past, recent experiences and observations about social media and the internet as a whole.

Fourteen years ago, when I was new in the affairs of the internet, I ran into a fraudster who wanted to have me duped. Yahoo messenger and Email messaging was the popular means of interaction that I knew as at then.

One of the days, I opened my email box to be welcomed by an email that sound too good to be true. In the message, my full name was addressed. I was told that I had won a raffle draw and would be paid Two Hundred Thousand Pounds. I was amazed and started thinking of what to do with the money when finally received and converted to Nigerian currency.

The fraudster gave me a name and an email address which I was told to send a message that he is the person in charge of remitting my money to my bank account. I actually sent a mail to that email address and as quickly as possible I received a reply from the person. The drama continued to unfold to a point where insurance certificate and another certificate bearing my name and the amount I was meant to be paid were sent to me. Everything became so real and I kept it to myself. Then I was asked to supply some vital information on my bank account. Unfortunately, I had no bank account then, so I suggested they post the money to me using the address I supplied. The young man later opened up to me. In his words: “You are lucky that you did not supply me with your bank details. I’m a Nigerian like you. We are out there for the white men and their dollars. Next time, you have to be careful the way you browse the internet”. I was astonished at this point to what made him open up to me.

Today, internet fraud seems to have become the norm and if these impostors and fraudsters are not succeeding, they won’t be trying the more.

One of the social media networks that accommodates a large number of impostors now, is Facebook.

These impostors use the picture and full name of popular celebrities in the society and the world, be it a musician or a movie actor or actress to create a Facebook profile. In most cases, they use that of an influential politician. Once you add them up and they accept your friendship request, they will be the one asking you questions thus: “Name five of my movies you have watch”. Each question has it followed up which ordinarily cannot be type within the space of time you receive them. If you supply the answer to that question, then the next will be the prize you have won for answering correctly and a name and phone number to call to claim your prize. Some will ask you if you want to join Nollywood movie industry and of course your answer may be yes. The same kind of massage will arrive requesting you to call a particular number who will guide you on how to register and become a member.

Usually, they have few or more picture of the person they are impersonating on their profile.

Recently, I met one of the impostors in the name of one of the popular and influential Nigeria politicians. He asked me what I do for a living, I told him, and then he asked me if I could work in one of the oil companies he mentioned that is based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He claimed that he had slots for job there presently and that he could offer me one of the positions. I said okay and acted like I needed the job so much. He further gave me a contact and a name telling me to call the number as early as 8: AM, tell the person that I called on his direction for a better listening ear and then get back to him after my conversation with the person. I then requested for his contact which he declined giving out with the excuse that I know how bad the country is. So a man of his status feels insecure to release his contact to me for security reasons.

The long messages came in seconds, and then I was fully convinced that, they were already typed and stored in the system for the manipulation of his victims.

When I searched Facebook with the same political figure’s name, I realized that over 6 accounts were created in his name.

Beyond every reasonable doubt, this politician may not be the one operating these accounts.

The other who claimed to be a Nollywood actor asked me to name five of his movies. I did with fun. And he further gave me a name and phone number to call for my prize. When I called the number, my true caller application displayed the name as “FRAUD”. Then still chatting with the impostor, I told him what my true caller said. Till date, he never replied.

How can I forget in a hurry the incident that occurred when the popular Nollywood actor, Muna Obiekwe died and his impostor refused to die with him.

When the news filtered in, the impostor denied it saying that he was alive. Probably he was not fully aware about the truth that the person he has been using his name to dupe people and commit other crimes had died truly. When the truth became obvious to him about the death of Muna Obiekwe. he came to the same social media handle and accepted the fact that Muna was dead and that he has been an impostor.

Before you get so carried away by that new celebrity friend you have found on Facebook, twitter or any other social media network, be sure that you are linked to the right person.

The pictures of these public figures are all over the internet for easy access. And Facebook does not reject opening of an account with the same name over and over again. There are also no restrictions to uploading of any kind of picture once your account has been created on Facebook. When you have these tips and more, then you will hardly fall victim of the cheap fraud going on the internet. You will be able to understand that anyone can be anybody he or she claims to be on the social media network.

Some of these popular public figures are too busy to be on social media in the first place. Though, I have few of them who I know their accounts are genuine both from the movie, musical and political angle because I communicate with them also on phone to affirm our interactions on social media network.

The impostors of movie actors and actresses and other popular figures may only have the intent of defrauding their victims of their money while on the other angles, some people have actually lost their lives through their association with people met on Facebook and other social media.

Ladies fall victim the more in this regard. A lady would travel all the way from Abuja for an instance to Lagos just to see a man for the first time. It’s not bad to have such amount of trust only if the person is genuine. But how can you be too sure. As some have ended up being declared missing, ganged raped, killed in a hotel room and so on by the person or persons they had been chatting with on Facebook at their visit. Some become useless after having that encounter maybe with a fetish man. Who lives them dead but alive after sleeping with them and robbing them of their destiny. Some have even ended their relationship which has been moving fine because of a lady or a man they met on Facebook who they are not sure of their genuine identity.

For a lady to travel all the way from Abuja to Lagos to meet a man like I gave as an instance, she is obviously ready to sleep over wherever the man chooses for the them to be.

Hard work and wealth are not meant for the men alone. A lady can also rise above the standard of being at the demanding circle of a man. You earn yourself more respect when you are not a liability as a woman. A man will not take you on full ride if you have something to offer close to measure up with what he has to offer. Some ladies in our society like Linda Ikeji, the blogger is one among other ladies who live an exemplary life that proves that ladies can do it through hard work. I think most Nigerian ladies have become so lazy and filled their thoughts with myopic thinking. Some have the belief that all that they can offer to the world to get to wherever they aspire in life is their body. Truly, some ladies are making money through the use of their body. But when you get close to such a person, you will realize that any clothe that is worn all the time without a break must wear out. From the skin of such a person you can tell.

One thing about Christmas is the fact that its celebration never ends. It’s a continual thing. But life when lost cannot be regained to see another Christmas.

The Yuletide is around the corner, wisdom is a gift but yet not everyone applies it. Common sense is not common.

We need to be at alert whenever we find ourselves on the internet. Like a saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold”. And life has no duplicate among other things you may lose on the social media, if you are not careful enough.

I rest my pen.

Chukwudi Sopuruchi is graphic designer, 08032703003


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