A Year Later, I Sat Face To Face With The Guy Who Stole My Money- Lady Narrates.
One early Sunday morning, my phone’s ring tone woke me up. It was a message. I was about to read the message when a call came through. The caller sounded desperate. Like something was after him. He said, “Please sister, may God touch your heart so you listen to me. I made a very huge mistake and you’re the only one who can help me. I was sending it to my church pastor and it mistakenly came to your number. Instead of 68, I typed 86 and it came to you. Please send it back to me. It’s my tithe. If I lose it, I won’t be able to pay it again. Please help me.”
I didn’t understand his problem and I didn’t understand why I’m the only one who could help him. “What do you mean? What are 68 and 86? Clearly, I’m lost. Can you make yourself clear on what you want me to do?” He said, “So this morning I’m supposed to go to church but due to one or two reasons I’m not able to go so I decided to send my tithe through mobile money. While sending it, I mixed up the numbers. Your number ends with 86, right? My pastor’s number ends with 68. So instead of typing 68, I made a mistake and typed 86. That’s how come my tithe got to you instead. Didn’t you get the message?”
It may be the way he sounded on the phone or it may be my inclination to things of the church. I know the importance of tithe and I know what happened to those who squander the Lord’s money so immediately I heard his story, I believed him, and even was sympathetic to him. I said, “I was reading the message when the call came. I’m sorry that has to happen to you. I’ll see how much you sent and send it back to you right away.” He retorted, “It’s only GH₵500. But you don’t have to send everything. Just deduct the charges and send me the rest.” I said, “Don’t worry. It’s God’s money so I can’t touch any of it. I will send it back to you but next time check the number and see the name before you press send. It’s very important.”
I didn’t even go back to read the message. I typed the shortcode and sent the money right away. I was about to feel proud of myself for doing God’s will when the transaction confirmation dropped. I checked my account balance and realized it didn’t add up. “How can I have only GH₵20 remaining in my account? Was it not just last night that Greg sent me GH₵500? So I should be having over GH₵500 remaining in my account.” I checked my balance again following the instructions and it was still GH₵20. So I went back to the message I was reading before the guy called. That was when it occurred to me that I’d been duped.
I called his line immediately and it was off. I called again and again as if I didn’t hear the feedback when it said, “The number you’re calling is currently switched off.”
I heard it often from friends. Even my own mother lost money through MoMo fraud and I laughed at her. I said, “How could you not see it coming? They’ve made announcements about this issue for so long so you should have been able to detect it. W’ama akoa no akyi wo mugu.” Then I laughed out loud. I thought I was the smartest. I thought I was the most enlightened. “Things of this nature won’t happen to me because I will know,” I said to myself. But we mostly fall for fraud not because we didn’t know. We fall because they get us at our weakest point. He came in the name of God. That name softens my heart no matter where I am and the situation I’m in. It was the issue of tithe that broke my defenses because I know how deep the blessings go when it comes to tithe. He softened my heart and then broke my defenses. I was like a city without walls. I got attacked in daylight and got raided.
For a whole week, I called the number consistently and it was off. I was so embarrassed to tell anyone, not even Greg who sent me the money. Anytime I remembered the incident, I got angry and started calling the number. It was always off. I saved the number on my phone with the name “FraudGuy.” The pain subsided and the shame of allowing someone to steal my money also faded.
A year later…it was over a year actually. I was going through Whatsapp status when I saw a status update from FraudGuy. I’d even forgotten about him so I was like, “Who’s that one too? FraudGuy…FraudGuy…FraudGuy…” Then it clicked! “Yes, the tithe fraud guy. He’s back online?” The first thing I wanted to do was call and insult him and ask him to return my money. I said, “Or I should call and threaten him with curses?” You know these guys. Even God’s name doesn’t scare them how much more a curse? The status was a photo so I replied with three hearts emojis. He sent a message, “Who is this?” I responded, “Oh so you’ve forgotten about me so soon? That’s ok.”
He started ranting about how he misplaced his phone and how he had lost all his contacts. The usual silly lies we tell when we want to defend why we don’t have a friend’s number. All I said was, “That’s ok. I only saw a nice photo and I reacted. If you don’t have my number, let’s leave it here.” Trust guys to follow up if it has to do with a woman who has a beautiful DP. So he called and I picked. I said, “You still don’t remember my voice even after talking to you for this long?” He answered, “It sounds familiar but honestly I don’t remember.”
He asked my name and I said, “Sandra.” He asked where we met and I made a story up. He said, “Nooo then this is a wrong number. I said, “You’re not Bernard?” He answered, “Nooo, I’m not Bernard.” I switched to apology mode. “Oh wow, then I have the wrong number on my phone. I’m very sorry. I’m even embarrassed. Please forgive me for accusing you wrongly.” He laughed. He said calmly, “That’s ok. It happens sometimes but you know, it could be God’s way of trying to make us friends.” I said, “Yeah, that’s also possible too.” He asked, ’So we are friends?” I said, “Why not? You can talk to me whenever you want to.”
All this while, I was thinking about why a guy this cool could be a fraud guy. He mentioned God’s name at any given opportunity and it made me wonder what made him do that to me. How the thing was going was so funny I shared the story with a guy in my office and asked him what to do. He came in with a different dimension. He said, “It’s been over a year. It could be that he’s not the same guy who stole your money. Maybe that guy stopped using the SIM and it was resold to another person. Ask him questions so you don’t hurt an innocent person.”
When he called the following day checking up on me, I said, “Are you sure you’re not playing a prank on me? Your voice sounds like that my friend, Bernard.” He said, “Oh I’m not the one. But I’ve sent you photos? You should know.” I asked, “How long have you been using this line?” He said, “It was my second line. I’ve been using it for over two years now but along the line, the phone it was in got spoilt so I stopped using it for a while. Until recently, I got a new phone and put it on it.”
“So it’s him. No doubt about that.”
My friend in the office asked what I was going to do to get my money. The first thing that came to mind was to report him to the police and get my money. My friend said, “That’s a long process. You’ll waste your time and may also not get the money. He can deny it and you know Ghana police, you may end up spending money on them too. Do this instead. He likes you. Pretend you like him too. Meet him and become his friend. One day, borrow the GH₵500 from him. When the money lands in your account, then you remind him of what he did. That’s all.”
I met him for the first time. One nice guy. He looked shy and talked while his eyes were wandering. The name of God came easily to him. “Thank God you made it.” “We are here not because of our will. It’s God who willed it. We may call it an accident but it’s not.” “God willing something may come out of this…” “What church do you attend? I hope you pay your tithe.”
If I had doubts about his identity, that last statement he made erased all the doubt in my head. I was there for a mission so I wasn’t going to fall for the Gd factor in his lines. He looked like someone who will easily commit emotional fraud on you if you allow him to. He wanted to know where I live and wanted to know what I do for a living. I told him everything and we wrapped up the night. A week later, We met for the second time. That day he said something that sounded like a proposal. I told him my mother was sick and was not in the right frame of mind. I told him to give me some time to think about it. He said, “I will wait but pray about it too. I know I’m the one for you.”
We met the third time. He asked how my mother was doing. I told him she was getting better. He said, “But you don’t look well. Is something wrong with you? I answered, “I’m looking for a loan and everyone is telling me they don have it. A friend promised that he’ll give it to me tomorrow but the way he said it, I’m not sure he would. I’m only praying. Mom needs drugs and that money is all I’m going to rely on.” He said, “And you didn’t tell me? Or I’m not a friend enough for you to ask such things from me? Or I don’t look like someone who can give you a loan? Even if I can’t give everything, I can contribute my quota.”
I asked for GH₵500 and he gave me GH₵400 cash and sent GH₵200 through MoMo. I hugged him right there. I said, “You’re God sent. Thanks so much for coming through for me.” He said calmly, “Let’s give thanks to God. I told you there’s a purpose to our meeting.”
Mission accomplished. I was ready to spill the beans—to let him know that there are masters to the game he played on me. My friend in the office said, “No, there’s more where that came from. This was a gift he gave you. Wait until you get the loan before you spill the beans.” I said, “I got GH₵600, I’m tired. I don’t even have to tell him anything. I will stay in my corner and not mind him again.” This is a guy who doesn’t take a no for an answer. He kept pushing me to get the loan. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I didn’t want to try at all but one day he brought himself.
He asked me, “Was the money enough? Is your mother doing well now?” I responded, “She’s not doing well. I didn’t want to inform you because I didn’t want to overburden you with my private issues. There are still drugs to buy. Friends are helping out so I’m ok. He said, “I will be praying for you.” I retorted, “Honestly I don’t need prayers right now. It’s a loan I want. Not too much. Just GH₵700. Can you help?” He answered, “Let’s see what I can do. You’ll hear from me in the evening.” I said, “You’re not giving this to me for free. It’s a loan. I will pay right after the end of the month, trust me.” In the evening, he sent me GH₵400. He said, “That’s all I have left in my account.” I sent a smiling emoji. I wrote, “I’m thankful. I will tell you something tomorrow.”
So the next morning we were chatting when I dropped the bomb;
“Have you been a MoMo fraudster before?”
“What have you heard about me? Why are you asking me this question?”
“You remember over a year ago, you called a lady and said you’ve sent your tithe to her by mistake? 86 instead of 68, you remember? I was that girl. Some of us don’t give up until we get our money back.”
He left me on a blue tick. He called seconds later. Immediately I picked the line he started hauling insult at me, “Kwasia! Nymae betua wo ka paaa. I’m giving you only two days, If you don’t send me my money, you’ll see what would come unto you. You might not even live to see the sunshine. Aboa! Gyimifoɔ”
I couldn’t help but break down and laugh. For a good four days, he kept sending me insults. He sent voice notes hauling insults on my generation and ancestors, cursing everyone. Three days later, I sent him a message, “Dear, I’m alive.” He sent me a voice note, “Tipper truck will kill you today if you dare cross the road. Krɔnfoɔ baa!
I still have his number. Once in a while, I send him a message and ask, ”What’s God doing in your life now? Or you’re still on the road to Damascus, defrauding people of their hard-earned money?” When he’s in a good mood, he’ll not mind me. When he’s not, he would send a voice note insulting me. The last message I sent to him is still hanging. Maybe he has blocked me but who cares? I got my revenge and got my money too.