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 HR professional who was scammed through a hacked WhatsApp number. He tells us about how it happened and the lessons he learnt from the experience.
Could you tell me about your money mistake?
One day, I received a message from a friend in the US who was planning a trip to Nigeria. She claimed to be stuck in Ghana and needed some money to sort herself out.
Given that we had discussed her upcoming trip just a week prior, and I know that some travellers try to save money by flying into Nigeria via other African countries, her request didn’t feel odd.
I asked her how much she needed, and she gave a very specific amount, ₦19,850, which made it seem even more convincing. I didn’t hesitate; I went ahead and sent the money. Unfortunately, it turned out that her WhatsApp had been hacked.
Woah! How did you figure that out?
Well, it didn’t hit me right away. About two hours later, I received another message thanking me for the money and, to my surprise, asking for more money.
She assured me that everything was fine and that there was another transaction she needed to make on her end, but she was coming to Nigeria soon and she’d refund me. I think that request was for around ₦18k or so. And, without thinking too much, I sent the money again.
Then the person reached out again for even more money, about ₦23k. That was when I became really suspicious because my friend doesn’t exactly ask for help like that, which is another reason I was eager to help.
So I asked her to call me.
But they kept rejecting the calls. That’s how I figured I’d been scammed. My friend was even nice enough to refund a part of the money. Since then, I don’t even bother to engage those kinds of messages. I just block.
How much longer did it take to connect with your friend?
It took about 24 hours. After I figured I wasn’t speaking with her, I tried to reach her through another means. She had also received warnings that people were using her line to scam others, so she was raising alarms elsewhere.
How did it feel after you realise you’d been scammed?
Honestly, I only confided in one friend about it. I think this is why most people keep such incidents to themselves — it’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t gamble or bet, so I felt pretty foolish to have been scammed like this.
It just made me wonder how many others had been scammed through the same pattern. Maybe most people even discovered it on the 5th attempt or never even figured it out at all.
But a friend had comforted me that such a mistake usually happens just once, and you learn from it.
What lessons did you learn from this experience?
First, never assume that these experiences can never happen to you, especially if you’re a kind-hearted person who’s always willing to help out. I used to think of myself as financially alert and scam-resistant, but this incident caught me off guard.
Second, it’s crucial to double-check whenever you receive these kinds of requests from your friends. A friend texted the other day to ask for help and I had to insist we jump on a video call for me to verify her claim.
And third, always stay vigilant. During the first two attempts, I was in a meeting and not entirely clear-headed to think things through. By the third attempt, I was done for the day and the messages didn’t make sense anymore.