Ever poised to take untoward advantage of any situation for their criminal ends, con artists are keying into the frenzy of political activities towards the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria, The News Room can report authoritatively.
Enterprising scammers, it was gathered, have in recent times shifted their attentions from their typical schemes of miracle banking and investments for extraordinary returns, phantom prize winnings and fake government economic palliatives, among others, fully to the political terrain.
It was learnt that the fraud syndicates have zeroed in on trading with the name of one of the top contenders in the forthcoming polls, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku and the trio of Messrs Peter Obi, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidates of the Labour Party (LP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), respectively, form the quartet of leading contenders out of the total number of 18 registered parties whose candidates are vying to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari come May 29, 2023.
On August 4, 2022, at 2:45 PM, a subscriber had received a text with the heading – “Atiku PDP Support”, using the number +2349075502806.
Claiming to represent the interests of the presidential candidate of the PDP, the message stated: “*PDP* ATIKU FOR PRESIDENT 2023 Vote ATIKU ABUBARKAR (sic) for change PDP support with NGN69,990 as an Appreciation to Atiku Supporters FOR- PAYMENT CALL 08142872218″.
Another subscriber informed The News Room that at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2022, he received a text bearing such a message from this phone number – +2349027075635.
The message he showed our correspondent read: “PDP!!! POWER VOTE ATIKU ABUBARKAR (sic) FOR CHANGE 2023 AND STAND A CHANCE TO REACIVE 85,000 FOR THE BETTERMENT OF NIGERIA CALL 07064185544 FOR PAYMENT PDP!!! POWER”.
He was quite eager to scroll through his mobile phone’s message box to display similar messages earlier sent to him, as he claimed that the one sighted by The News Room was the latest.
Similarly, on October 7, 2022, another subscriber had received a message from +2348084939055, stating thus: “PDP* For President 2023 Vote Atiku Abubarkar (sic) for change 2023(PDP) support N75,500 call 07047639934 for payment”.
A text sent from +2348024765944 and received at 7:49 AM on October 19, 2022, to a subscriber stated thus: “PDP POWER VOTE ATIKU ABUBARKAR (sic) FOR CHANGE 2023 AND STAND A CHANCE TO REACIVE (sic) 85,000 FOR THE BETTERMENT OF NIGERIA CALL 07049802315 FOR PAYMENT PDP!!! POWER”.
At 11:23 AM on October 24, 2022, a text to a subscriber from +2348087222962 read: “*PDP*ATIKU FOR PRESIDENT 2023 Vote ATIKU ABUBARKAR for change 85,000 as an Appreciation to Atiku supporters FOR- PAYMENT CALL 09135702068”.
On their reactions to the texts, all the recipients in their separate responses, while pleading anonymity, all had the common conclusion that they had not bothered to follow up as instructed by the messages because it would be a waste of resources and invitations to further troubles from criminal elements.
Each was emphatic about knowing better about skipping and avoiding the machinations of fraud syndicates, having experienced the onslaught of texts bearing all the elements of fraud schemes that trended in the past.
Some of such scams are even still trending, promising mouth-watering payouts from phantom wins in purported promotions by a popular fruit juice manufacturer (name withheld) and purported economic empowerment programmes by the Federal Government, aside the genuine ones promoted by the Presidency, which became rife with the onset of the novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID) pandemic.
Calls placed by The News Room to the numbers that sent the respective aforementioned texts and the various numbers referred to therein were quite revealing in revealing the criminal intentions of their authors, despite their attempts at varying degrees of trickery to score a potential mark.
As at the time of posting this report, the media aides of the PDP’s presidential candidate had not responded to enquires from The News Room for possible explanations on the probable reasons why the campaign of Atiku Abubakar for Nigeria’s top job is under siege by scam artists.
However, analysts readily offer some insights as to why the fraudsters are banking on the name of the PDP presidential candidate to peddle the trending scam in Nigeria.
The analysts were emphatic that Atiku Abubakar, by the nature of the politician and his campaign structure, shows up as the most bankable among the four leading presidential candidates for the fraudsters’ game, even as they indulged in spelling the surname “Abubarkar”, differently from the bearer’s style.
Noting that the machinery of the LP’s Obi was a novelty rarely seen in Nigeria’s political terrain, totally demonetising political campaigns, the analysts posited that the structures of the APC and NNPP, respectively, were too tightly-knit to offer fertile grounds for fraudsters’ manoeuverings and shenanigans.
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