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I Was Scammed Out Of ₦1 Million By A Close Friend

My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.

For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a product manager who invested in a friend’s business and was scammed. He tells us about his money mistake, how the experience made him individualistic, and what he learnt from the experience.

Could you tell me your money mistake?

It happened right after I lost my mum. For condolences, I had gotten a lot of financial gifts from people she knew. I was much younger, so I didn’t have any major need or priorities for money. 

One of my friends who I’d known for about six years reached out to me about a forex business he was working on — with the promise of 15% interest after six months. That sounded decent enough, and although I was familiar with the risks of forex, I agreed to invest not just as a client, but as an investor in the business.

After the promised six months, I started hearing excuses. One some days it would be about him being arrested on his way out of Lagos, or being kidnapped. Then he stopped picking my calls altogether.

At this point, what was going through your mind?

Of course, I knew something had happened to the money. He even started changing his phone number often, and he would only reach out to me with a new phone number after I threatened him. 

He was one of the people who called almost everyday after my mum died, so it was less about the money involved and more about the friendship that made the scam happen. And because I trusted him, I had also invited one of my friends to invest in the company. 

But that loss must’ve meant something

Mostly because it had sentimental value, yes. But it was also a gift and it wasn’t an immediate need in that way. The month after it happened, I also got a major increase in my salary that felt like some kind of compensation, so I was a lot more concerned about the friendship. 

Was there someone else you were accountable to for the money?

My younger sister knew about it. I also told her when I made the “investment,” and because we didn’t need that much money for any major thing, she was fine with it. She also knew when things went bust, and she was cool with it too. 

Did you try to look for him?

I went to his house, but I was told that they’ve also been looking for him. I even almost reported him to the police, but I eventually decided to let it go. Some of the other people who invested took it up with the police though. 

Did it affect your approach to friendships?

After this experience, I only support my friends’ ventures with financial gifts, not investments. I know I became more individualistic after the experience. I try to avoid conversations around money with friends because of how messy it can be. 

It even affected how I approach things like splitting bills and giving loans to family. I would rather just cover it as a gift and sleep well than move around with the hope that they’ll pay back. If they do, even better. 

What did you learn from the experience?

I should’ve done my due diligence before I invested in it. There was a sense in which I knew that 15% after 6 months wasn’t realistic, but I was hoping that by investing in the company itself, I’d be able to get some profit. 

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