Saturday, 30 November 2013

Talking About Scams & Spams

Several months ago I was having an e-conversation with some friends. One of them was attending a particular Model United Nations (MUN) conference at a school in Europe under sponsorship. Somehow, I got the idea to have a debut experience at HNMUN. But the information I received was different from what was obtainable. I later realized that I could not access sponsorship for my application. It happened due to miscommunication. Weeks later, I heard about someone who paid the wrong guys for his MUN application. He had been sent spams and thought he was communicating with the right folks. By the time he knew the truth, he had lost his money. Now, that was a scam.

One could easily assume that most internet users know how to identify scam mails. But recent happenings have proven otherwise. The amount of spammed mails received by internet users is not abating, especially for those using free email accounts in developing countries. In addition, when people have their email addresses enlisted on websites that do not have adequate data protection mechanisms, they expose themselves to heavy spams from prospective scammers. The simple use of email crawlers is efficient enough for scammers to create databases containing thousands of email addresses.

Spams are different from credit, debit or prepaid card fraud in that the former does not require specialized hacking or programming skills. Spams are unwanted or unsolicited emails that are randomly sent to the mailboxes of internet users who may or may not have an interest in the content of such messages. They can be in form of any language that the scammer finds suitable. To scam someone, a cybercriminal just needs to deceive the mail recipients by phishing (sending fake emails) and taking advantage of their impatience, ignorance, carelessness or greed.

It is now common practice for fraudsters to defraud consumers of online banking through phishing. ACI’s 2012 survey results of 5,200 respondents in 17 various countries showed that 1 in 4 consumers are victims of bank fraud.

I heard of a lady who lost her monthly salary to fraudsters during her national youth service corps (NYSC). They had deceived her by sending a duplicate of her bank’s original email to her mailbox. In the email, she was warned about the need to update her account for security reasons. They also asked her to click a link to her personal banking portal and enter her personal identification details. The mail contained the bank’s logo, usual sign-offs and exact outline. But unknown to her, the domain name of the sender’s email address was different from her bank’s actual address by a single character. By simply mousing over the suggested link, she could have seen the full domain name of the fake website and realized the difference.

Below is an example of the scam mails I have been receiving since someone (I do not know who exactly) enlisted my email address on the unsafe webpage of a particular training company.

Scam Mail Begins

The Telefónica Notification
Liverpool L70 1NL United Kingdom
Customer service Notification Desk.
Tel: +44 702 409 6807

Congratulation!!! Dear Account Holder.

We are happy to announce to you that your active e-mail account attached to computer generated ticket number: DS41457482
has won prize Sum of £850,000.00 Britain Pound in our 1st Category of international lottery Jackpot.

Download the attachment file for claims and payment details: (Telefónica Lottery Jackpot.doc)..
Selby Duffield.
Online coordinator.
The UK (O2) Telefónica International Promotion Inc.

End of Scam Mail

Needless to say, I did not play any lottery or jackpot. So, why should I be told that I have won the sum? If I were greedy enough, maybe I would have shown interest. But unfortunately for them, I am not.

 To read more about scams, visit

Friday, 15 November 2013

How to Become Better while ASUU Strike Lasts

            If you are presently studying in any public Nigerian university at undergraduate level and are affected by the ongoing strike, this information is for you. You should strive to add value to yourself in this season but first, let me tell you why.

            It is possible that you do not owe any fees at the Nigerian academic institution where you are a registered student. It is likely that your parents or sponsors have done their best to get your tuition, departmental, students’ association, accommodation and miscellaneous fees paid accordingly this semester. It is certain that you did not sign up at the university simply because you would like to grow grey hairs in an academic environment. Even if you owe your school some fees presently, creating a season of unending idleness in your life does not guaranty its payment. There are surer and better ways to make you comply. Therefore, you do not deserve the striking deadlock that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Nigerian government have created. You are a student under oath, so what you deserve is predictable education.

            I do not blame ASUU for going on the strike. What else would a union of workers do to influence their employer? Yet, I cannot find absolute fault with the consultation team of President Goodluck Jonathan (who is a PhD holder himself) because they did not create the mess in the public tier of our educational sector. The mess in the sector had been smelly and obvious long before his tenure. In fact during my undergrad days of 2005-2010, I once sat under a lecturer who boasted that the browned, torn and long-suffering notes given to us to photocopy were the actual notes he copied 15 years ago under the tutelage of a renowned late professor. Yes, I also put my hands on my head in awe saying, “Mo Gbe!” when I heard him. That was just one out of a hundred experiences.

            Now, ASUU is trying to fight for improvement in the quality of tertiary education in our country and it is obvious that mainly the generation of students after you would partake in the fruits of their struggle. So, what can you do to ensure that when the strike is over you do not return to school like a victimised Methuselah? How can you add value during this strike or any forthcoming one?

Take free courses online.
If you are lucky enough to have access to Internet service through smartphones, notepads or computers at home, on campus, in your neighbourhood or relative’s workplace, find time to take free courses at any of,,, You may also contact dinehintop(at)yahoo(dot)com to be considered for courses on by quoting “Edupower Crew” in your email.

Volunteer to work for NGOs.
Some organisations are constantly seeking volunteers and interns who can work for them physically or online. They are not obliged to pay you but the experience gained is usually a boost for your CV. It is also an opportunity to build professional contacts and get useful recommendations. To find volunteer opportunities, visit,, or send an email to ayodeji(at)easy(dot)com to get more specific information or even join Edupower Crew.

Work for your parents, their friends or some relative.
If your parents are self-employed, you could negotiate for a pay and work for them. Otherwise, you could ask them to link you up with people who are doing something you like and could employ you. However, you must be able to prove that they need you and ensure you don’t disappoint your recommender.

Start a small business.
If you are a risk-taker, you can start a small business. Otherwise, if you have friends that have certain IT or vocational skills, collaborate with them and work for them. After learning from them for a while, you might just be daring enough to start something.

Register at a library and study.
Find a library in your neighbourhood where you can study and form a discussion group at a public location. Review your academic results and find students that can help you understand them. Prepare yourself ahead of school.

Sometimes, doing a mixture of the above would help you add much value before returning to school. Whichever one you choose, I wish you the best!