Begging and fraud on the rise in Nigeria as economic hardship worsens

Nigeria is currently grappling with a severe economic crisis characterised by escalating inflation and widespread economic hardship.

The removal of fuel subsidies, continuous depreciation of the national currency, and soaring commodity prices have significantly eroded the purchasing power of citizens.

In the face of these challenges, the nation is witnessing a notable surge in begging and fraudulent activities.

According to a report by Business Day, begging has transformed from a traditional practice to a multifaceted phenomenon.

For some, it has become a supplementary “side hustle,” while others are compelled to make it a full-time occupation.

Sunday Ezechi, a Lagos-based plumber, told BusinessDay that it has become a growing concern because bus stop to bus stop in Lagos has become home for jobless people who survive on begging.

‘Egbo mi, find me something, I never chop since morning or since yesterday,’ has become a familiar phrase on the streets of Lagos, Ezechi said.

“One pathetic incident happened last week at a store where I normally buy bread.

A mother of two came to buy bread and asked the seller to give her N200 worth of bread to manage with her two children, but it happened that the N200 bread that she used to buy now sells for N300, and she became stranded at that point.

“The woman begged the seller to consider selling the bread for N200 because she didn’t have N100 to make up. The situation was so touching for me because even the N300 bread could hardly feed two people, which moved me to buy N500 bread for them,” Ezechi said.

Festus Odion, a civil servant, said: “If I tell you the number of requests I receive every week from relations and friends, you will marvel.

“A number of them are just to buy food to eat, some are for burial support while others are to either pay their children’s school fees or make up for house rent.”

Also, fraudsters are capitalising on Nigeria’s economic vulnerability by using sophisticated tactics such as phone hacking.

Victims find their compromised phones used to send fraudulent messages seeking financial assistance from their contacts.

Phone hacking incidents have surged, with fraudsters impersonating individuals facing dire circumstances.

Two weeks ago, 43-year-old Adenike Sanni, a member of one of the famous Pentecostal churches in Lagos, had an awful experience.

It happened that several of her family members, friends, and others on her contact list recently received a strange message stating that Sanni was soliciting N100,000 for them to cater to an immediate need.

According to Sanni, her phone was hacked by a fraudster, who not only took over her WhatsApp line but practically sent messages to every person on her contact lists telling the same story and begging for money.

Similarly, the Whatsapp account of Johnson Adesulu, a medical professional, was recently hacked, and the fraudster sent out a message of him being stranded and begging people to help him with N50,000, which he promised to pay back once his bank app started functioning.

He said the same message was sent to practically every member in his WhatsApp group, and it was someone who knows the wife who called her to ask why her husband had turned into a beggar so he could realise that his account had been hacked.

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