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 19-year-old student who was scammed of almost ₦500,000 by an Instagram vendor. He tells us about ignoring red flags, the lessons he has learnt and how that has shaped his online shopping behaviour.
Could you tell me about your money mistake?
Around December last year, I tried to get a laptop on Instagram, and the vendor blocked me after I paid.
How did that happen?
I had been trying to get a new laptop for a while. My cousin had found this instagram page that was selling it for a really low price and sent it to me. I decided to try them out and paid as soon as I got the account number to pay into.
How much are we talking about here?
But that isn’t cheap for a laptop.
For this particular laptop, it was. It’s a special laptop with a high processing speed. I wanted to buy it because it could mine bitcoin, unlike the one I had that couldn’t handle the intensity. A friend who is into bitcoin had recommended it.
So what happened afterwards?
Two days later, I followed up with them because I hadn’t gotten any other update after they received my transfer. They had promised that it was on its way, that there was something wrong with the logistics company they used.
That was the last day they responded to me. They blocked my Instagram page a few days later, and I couldn’t reach them anymore. I created another Instagram account and messaged them with it, asking for the delivery, and they blocked that one too.
That’s when I knew my money was gone. [Thanks to the Escrow feature, you don’t have to worry about this when shopping on Pocket by PiggyVest]
What else did you do?
After I was blocked the second time, I fell ill. ₦500k is not small money. I reached out to my bank to see if they could help, but they couldn’t. They told me to visit the nearest police station to complain, but I couldn’t. And that’s where the conversation ended.
Why didn’t you want to visit the police station?
The police? I knew they wouldn’t help me get my money back. It wasn’t worth the stress..
How did you feel?
I was very angry with myself for getting scammed.
Were there any red flags that you ignored?
Yes, there were a few. First, the laptop was ridiculously cheap. I should have known at that point that it was too good to be true. Also, when I messaged them, they took almost 2 hours to respond. Normally when I buy things online, they usually respond quickly.
Were there any lessons?
Many. I’m more cautious about any financial transaction between me and a stranger. I’m also no longer interested in buying anything from Instagram vendors, even if I’m convinced that they are credible.
The only online stores I buy from now are credible merchant websites that I can report fraudulent transactions to. I’ve also learnt that I shouldn’t be spending huge sums of money on a whim.
Have you been able to get a new laptop since then?
No, I haven’t been able to buy a new laptop. That event crippled me financially. But I plan to get a new one as soon as I can.