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My Money Mistake: I Lost My Japa Funds To A Fraudster

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 social media vendor who lost his post-university japa funds to a fraudulent visa agent. He tells us about how it happened and the lessons he learnt from the experience. 

Could you tell me about your money mistake?

I always dreamt of moving abroad after finishing my studies. As soon as I graduated from uni, an online friend introduced me to a visa agent. He claimed that he had helped his brother secure a US visa, so I called to inquire about getting a visa for Canada.

The agent suggested we meet at his office in Obalende, but because it was an area I wasn’t very familiar with, we eventually met at a bar. When we met, he showed me about 10 to 15 passports of people he had helped secure visas. 

He said he had a special connection, similar to what politicians use, that guaranteed a 100% visa success rate. 

How much did he say it would cost?

After a few conversations about my move, he asked for ₦2.5 million, with an initial ₦1 million paid upfront and the balance paid after the visa is ready within three to six months. So I paid the initial deposit. 

However, a few weeks later, he contacted me again, demanding an additional ₦500,000.

Did he tell you why he needed more money?

Not really. All I knew was that after paying him, he sent some documents to show that he’d been working. 

Then what?

Later on, he asked for another ₦‎300,000. He would usually put a lot of pressure on me to pay quickly, and if I questioned it, he would threaten me, saying that if anything went wrong with the visa, it wouldn’t be his fault. So I paid again. As time passed, he came up with a list of excuses, saying that things were still in the processing stage, causing the delay in getting the visa. 

Then, he requested an extra ₦‎200,000 to speed up a delivery from DHL so I could receive it on time. That wasn’t part of our original agreement, so I confronted him about it. He apologised and moved on, but a few weeks later, he asked me to send him money for booking a flight.


Yes. That was when I got really suspicious, because how do you book a flight without a visa. Then the man said it’s visa-on-arrival, that I’ll get my visa at immigration once I land in Canada. That was when I knew he was scamming me. 

I started looking for ways for us to meet in person so that I could, at least, collect my passport from him. That’s when he blocked me and his number stopped going through. 

What did you do?

I called the guy that gave me his number and that one too was dodgy. He first told me the man was legit and if he asks for anything, I should give him. That’s when it occurred to me that they were working together. 

Then he later reached out to say the visa agent is struggling with addiction to drugs and he would advise me to let it go so he doesnt die in my hands. I didn’t even know what to do again at this point. It was driving me crazy.

I’m so sorry about that

That was all my life savings. I had just left school that year, and I’d been planning this for years. He just collected all my money for nothing. I was so frustrated and depressed.

I was squatting with my friend then. I couldn’t even go for NYSC. I struggled with feeding, and I could barely work. I had to start hustling in Lagos from square one.

What do you do now?

I run an online business. I buy stuff from the market and sell online.

How is that going?

I’m managing. The problem with online businesses is the low level of trust, so referrals are the best way to get clients. 

How about your plans to travel?

I still want to leave this country, and I hope it happens sometime. Hopefully, soon. 

What lesson did you learn from this experience? 

I learnt to be very careful about who I trust. Now, anything that involves money, I always make sure I know and can trust the person before engaging in it. 

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