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My Money Mistake: I Paid For A Car Online, But It Never Arrived

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 business man in his 40s who was swindled out of over ₦1 million by an imposter car dealer. He tells us about how it happened and the lessons he learnt from the experience. 

Could you tell me about your money mistake?

Last year, I came across a post on Facebook about a car auction featuring a 2008 Toyota Sienna, a model I had been interested in buying. I responded to the person who posted it, and after some negotiation I eventually paid.

Unfortunately, it’s been almost a year since then, and despite paying more than our initial agreement, the car never arrived.

How did that happen?

After the negotiation, he reassured me and promised everything would be fine. He even showed me his customs ID card and sent more pictures of the car. I trusted him, so I paid for it.

A few days later, he told me there was a delay with his colleagues at customs and I needed to give him more money to sort things out. I know how tedious shipping things through customs can be, so I agreed and sent him more money.

But then he asked for more money again, for something else. We went back and forth on that, and I ended up agreeing and paying again.

Oh no.

He still came back with another bill. At this point, I started getting suspicious. So I confronted him about it. I told him that if he really was an experienced customs officer, he should know exactly how much it takes to ship and clear a vehicle. He apologised and said it was his mistake. 

He tried to reassure me, saying he wouldn’t gain anything from scamming me and that he wouldn’t be able to sleep well if he cheated people because God wouldn’t forgive him. 

I’m guessing that was just a trick to make you trust him.

Yes, and I fell for it. I trusted him and sent him the money he asked for. But it didn’t take long for him to ask for more money again. That’s when I realised there was no car to be cleared, and I knew I had been scammed. 

I told him to use his own money, and I promised to refund him for his expenses once the car arrived. However, he never did, and he stopped answering my calls.

How much are we talking about altogether?

I can’t remember, but it’s over ₦‎1 million. The car itself was supposed to be ₦‎950k, and one of the first payments I made after was ₦300k

I’m so sorry about this. Did you try to follow up or track him?

I reached out to the fraud unit of EFCC and the Nigerian Police, but none of them got back to me with anything concrete. All I got were automated responses saying they’d get back to me in a week.

Would you say you’ve recovered from that experience?

By the grace of God, I’ve recovered from that. I went to a physical store to get a car. And I’ve been able to recoup the money from my business. 

What did you learn from this experience?

I’m always wary of anything I see online. Now I know that all those online car auction posts are fake. Once I see them, I just tell them they’re thieves. 

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