Every couple of months, one of these pictures start to make the rounds from people’s BB and Facebook. Anyone who sees them either chuckles or shakes their head. It was such a rarity initially but now it seems that it has become more frequent.
Every Nigerian knows of yahoo yahoo boys. This is the term given to scam artists who meet gullible foreigners on the internet and con them into sending them money or gifts. I have always wondered what words a stranger on the internet would tell me to make me hand him my hard-earned money. A friend once said that the reason why we(Nigerians) can’t fall for the scammers, is because we are street smart. I disagree. We fall for scams popularly known as ‘419’ all the time. It is easier to fall prey to scams when you can see the scammer but isn’t it common sense not to believe a stranger over the internet. Yes, I guess people were more trusting then. Now it seems people have become wiser because they no longer send money as frequently. So our yahoo yahoo boys have devised the next best thing. Scamming lonely old women.
I recall my first experience with a Yahoo Yahoo boy. Back in 2007, I went to a cybercafe to scout the internet for online job applications. The server was slow, so I left it to take its time. I surveyed my surrounding to do a little amebo and began to read the chats of the guy beside me (yeah i know, none of my business, but I am bored and jobless). The guy beside me was chatting with a very wrinkled old lady (from her display picture). I gave him a conspiratorial wink ( I wanted him to think we were in the same line of work) and asked who is the lady? The boy grinned and said ‘that’s my maga’. (Now then I had no idea what a maga meant but I got the general idea of what he means and to keep the conversation flowing, I nodded.) Obviously he had been looking for someone to confide in, because he went on about how he has been working her for 4 months, that she is being difficult but before the end of 6 months, he would get her. I gave a fictitious story about my own ‘maga’ that I conned during an 8 month period (I was very good at forging stories at the drop of a hat. Very useful in my profession). I wished him luck; we exchanged numbers(I always change one digit in mine when I don’t want to give out my number). I avoided the cybercafe forever.
Now our boys have realised that getting folks to send money online is getting tougher and have decided to go over seas themselves to make the money. No, they won’t do it the legal way, queuing up at the embassy and applying for the visa. (the legal ways are for losers like the rest of us). So they devise another plan. Sweet talk the gullible grannies into marriage; get them down here; have a registry marriage(You never see pics of a reception and if you dispute this, please send me one); the girl (sorry granny) goes back, gets him papers and he moves over there.The perfect con,right? Except of course we all know what you doing and the pictures are put up everywhere as a source of amusement making them infamous.
Now I know some women actually are part of the scam and get paid to marry the men looking for the green card. I doubt if this is the situation here because they(the women) won’t pay their flight tickets to and fro to marry these guys. They would insist that the flight tickets be paid. It makes no sense that the men would give money for the girl’s(did I write girl again….granny’s)tickets and then pay to go there themselves. It is more probable that the old ladies smitten by their online lovers come all the way over to marry them.
Now I am a strong proponent of “to each his own”. What two consenting adults do, does not concern me, unless its illegal. I cannot believe that these women don’t know that they are being scammed. Green card marriage has been around for a long time and unless the women are senile, they know he is not marrying them for love. Maybe they are the one scamming the young men thinking that they have one up on the guy. I am not in any way condoning a scam but come on, love isn’t that blind that you can’t figure out whats going on.
As for the scammers, just like the gift and money ‘magas’ become wiser and stopped doling out the money, the marriage scams victims would stop too. Countries have become more vigilant about green card marriages and some insist that the marriage must have taken place for at least 2 years. So if you marry a lady that repulses you, you are stuck for 2 years. ha ha.
So drop a line. do you think these marriages are ridiculous? Am I being too general and ignoring the possibility that they may truly love the women? Drop a line.