Sonar’s Journal: Ever Paid An Agent? Greed & The Middle Man Syndrome | Part 2

Greed and the middleman SyndromeI am exceptionally delighted as I write this article in continuation of the “Greed & Middle-Man Syndrome” not just because I got an impressive feedback via mail but simply because I also got my first writer’s endorsement which is what we call a threat or what is supposed to be a threat from a reader who feels a write-up has touched a sensitive spot, perhaps, we will come to that later.

However, I took time out to read all the feedback mails which were quite revealing as to what people go through in the hands of middle men both the legal ones and the racketeers who sometimes work with the supposed legal officers, it is however sad that I will not be able to share all the mails here due to space but at least I was able to select a few that shed light on some issues. Among the first mails I received came this one from Ojo.

Ojo from Barriga.

“Thank you for this article LC, it has opened my eyes to see that truly human beings can be very selfish and wicked, imagine I had a problem with my car the other day and gave my mechanic N45,000 (Forty Five Thousand naira) to get a fairly used engine as replacement, he went to buy the wrong one after wasting my time for two days by the time I arrested him, he confessed to working with some racketeers at the spare parts market, they made him buy a cheaper engine for almost half the price unknown to him the engine was right hand drive instead of left hand drive. Now if a mechanic can be easily deceived by people he has been working with, then I have nothing else to say. Keep up the good work Sonar.”

Uzo from Ogudu

“Good day Mr. Writer, I have been reading your columns and have not posted anything before but this topic concern me a lot, I want you to talk more about it because this evil is with us and may God save us. My younger sister was duped of (Five Hundred Thousand and Fifty Five naira) three weeks ago by one Mr. Uti though he was not the original person she contacted; it was the agent Mr. Kabiru if that is even his real name. It was after the first meeting and the tour round several available places that Mr. Kabiru began rushing her to pay before others pick the one she chose. She didn’t have the money at the time so she had to borrow from her friends to pay but on getting to Mr. Kabiru’s office at Ikeja she met another person so she called Mr. Kabiru on phone who then told her the man there was Mr. Uti the lawyer that will draw up the agreement that she should pay to him, she was not comfortable with the arrangement but needed the house badly so she paid cash to the man who gave her a receipt for the money. She called Mr. Kabiru the next day but no one picked, after several trials the line was off she called the number on the receipt and it was the same so she went back to the office where she paid only to see that the place was locked, she was told by people around that the place has been unused for months. She almost died on the spot it dawned on us that she has been duped.”

Tayo from Akoka

“My part payment for off campus accommodation burnt because of this same fake agents or middle men as you call them, these ones came to our hostel with some students claiming they had good accommodation for those who do not yet have rooms of their own in school, they really sounded quite convincing and left with some students who returned with pictures and some of the places they were taken to. Students began to form teams in order to pay together for the apartments. The men returned on a Tuesday and that was when I followed them to see for myself. Most of the places were empty and quite good though no water. We followed them to their so called office and paid for the accommodation and we were handed the keys to the place. You need to see the commotion on Thursday when different students from various faculty including non-students who also came clashing at the venue because every one claimed they were the rightful occupant of the available rooms, all the keys did not work for any of the locks and the real owners of the place showed up with police to chase everybody away. They also claimed that they do not know anybody parading as caretaker of their property. That was how my N18,500 (Eighteen Thousand, Five Hundred naira) burnt in the hands of fraudsters AKA middle men. The students that initially came with them were arrested but not for long because they also claimed to be victims and we had no further evidence to pursue the case. It was painful to the marrow.”

— Victor from Ebutte Metta.

“Please keep up the good work Sonar. My concern basically is that some agents are thieves and will do anything just for money including cheating people and inflating prices unduly. I got my place where my family and I currently live at Ebute Metta for N700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand naira). Ordinarily, this is a three bedroom but not very large. I remember paying over N150,000 (Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) just for agency when in reality there was no agent, just one skinny hungry looking man pretending to be one. Just five months ago I received a letter from my landlord through the same middle man indicating an increase in price by 25%, I have since replied them to refund the recent money I paid for renovations which they did not do, so that I can pack out when my current rent expires next year. At this rate; crime rate in the future looks scary because young men can’t find jobs and those working don’t earn much how much more pay two years or sometimes three years for accommodation at the current exorbitant rate. Where are we heading to in this country? Greed is killing us, let us reason and think of the future.”

Lora from VI

“Sonar, well done for this expo into the activities of thieves both in the guise of regular agents and those who are outright ‘runs men’ giving various honest professions bad names and tainting the image of those who are upright, I sent the link of this article to my father who is Barrister and he expressed much interest because this same topic was what he has been trying to create awareness about for years especially about some people of his profession who are giving it a bad name. You should be receiving his feedback soon.

I almost fell victim in the hands of fake Customs Officers claiming to be clearing agents. They had put up such a good show of themselves that I was about to pay but thought to involved my father before going further, my dad made some calls and asked me to stay any payment till the agent he got arrives on the day of payment, when I told the men claiming to be agents that I was expecting someone who was also an agent and lawyer to witness the payment they insisted it was not necessary and when I insisted on waiting they rained curses on me and one of them almost assaulted me but for the fact that we were in a public place I raised alarm and all three of them disappeared. It was God that saved me that day as I had over N600,000 cash (Six Hundred Thousand naira) in my bag.”

 

These are just a tiny fraction of the volume of mails I received many of which went further to describe other issues besides those relating to subject at hand and I do appreciate all of them. Seeing that there is a general trend of crooked people taking advantage of the ignorance of other people to perpetrate evil, I approached Mr. Sam a police officer and Bar. Mrs. Adegoke a legal practitioner to give us ways to remain alert as well as avoid being victim to the tricks of middle men. These; I will summarise below as they both virtually said the same things:

  1. Never go into a large business transaction alone, involve a lawyer who usually bears witness and helps you decipher any documents involved to know if they are real or fake.
  2. Always carry out background checks, very important.
  3. Report all cases of scam or attempted scam regardless how the matter was resolved.
  4. Avoid huge cash transactions by all means because cash cannot be traced but an account can be traced to the owner and your payslip or ATM slip stands as documented proof.
  5. Do not meet people in places that are not secure, if invited to place that seem remote turn around on discovery and go back to your house, do not continue the journey.
  6. Any business proposal that suggest a shortcut is likely to be a scam, avoid it.
  7. Do not be desperate, over 90% of fraud victims were desperate people, desperation is what makes you take unnecessary risks without considering the implications.
  8. Follow legal channels, it is better to wait than to be a victim when duped.

I do hope that these few tips will at least make a difference to those who will endeavour to memorise them. The middle man syndrome is real and very damaging in our society.

I further advice by way of suggestion that the various legitimate profession with cases of imposters or corrupt officers should do something more proactive to save their dignity because one corrupt Lawyer, Clearing Agent, Housing Agent, Broker or any other will naturally give the rest in that field a bad name which will then rub off on the profession as a whole. This is reason enough professions should take it up as a responsibility to flush out the parasites from their midst.

If we all work together, this can easily be achieved, thanking everyone that sent in mails including Mr. Godwin and his failed attempt to threaten me without thinking that he just revealed himself as a fraudster. I can imagine the look on his face after receiving the friendly warning call from my Lawyer who easily got all his infomation including residential address within fifteen minutes of background checks.

If you want your comments featured on future articles or have experiences to share just leave your comment below. Also send a mail to admin@selahafrik.com or Sunday.imonah@gmail.com.

May the good Lord bless you and give us perfect joy this season.

About The Writer:

Sunday Imonah, also known as Lord Sonar because of his good music ears and vocal prowess, is an enigmatic Presenter on Drive Time belt, the Weekend run as well as other belts on Metro FM, He is a voice Actor and writer at heart. He has produced, written, and directed creative works for the Station and beyond. He has voiced Commercials for Companies like Afrab Chem, Cornoil, numerous pharmaceutical and beverage companies as well as religious houses to mention but a few. Sunday is a social critic who uses his writings to proffer solutions for social good.

Connect:

Twitter: @FirstSonar

 

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