Before the monster called fraud kills Nigeria

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By William Ayegba O.

Sir: Fraud is simply a criminal, wrongful and intentional deception to secure unfair and unlawful financial or personal gains. It is also and popularly referred to as “419”; an advanced fee fraud , a type of scam in which the victim is convinced to advance money to a stranger. In such scams, the victim is led to expect that a much larger sum of money will be returned to him or her. Fraud is encompassing.

The devastation caused by fraudulent activities on the society is more than enough to compel us to explore the mind of the fraudster and to confront the monster. The mask behind every fraud is best categorised into the following groups:-

The gullible novice: These are the group of people that are lured into fraud and often believe they are merely bending the law in return for a free pay cheque.

The desperados: This group of people are the impatient and lazy individuals in the society that have imbibed the laissez-faire and non-challant attitude. The desperados are in need of quick cash arising from a failing business, overdue debt and other problems originating from their consistent wrong financial decision making over a period of time.

Then we have the crime addicts. This group simply see fraud as a life style.

In all these categories, there are certain psychological and mental processes that play out in the minds of the perpetrators and these mentality bows to three abstract elements of chance, pressure and rationalisation.

Chance is the opportunity to carry out the act mainly among the gullible group of fraudsters who see a loophole and try to bend the law in return for a free pay cheque or personal gains. In our society, this group of people are becoming acceptable. It is a sad reality that most public servants, individuals in private corporations, bankers, judges, politicians, contractors, law enforcement agencies, etc in Nigeria fall into this category. This anomaly is rapidly becoming a norm and common standard.

Pressure is usually the motivation of the fraudster, the reason behind the act. Those group of persons that have failed to improve their financial status legitimately and may have found themselves in one form of circumstantial financial indebtedness; or those that have failed to resist societal expectations from them; will most likely bow to pressure in order to actualise their in-built fraudulent intents. In this case, the external factor of pressure has found a breeding ground in the mindset and thought-process of the fraudster to perpetrate the act.

The rationalisation factor is very high among the crime addicts category. Rationalisation is how the fraudster justifies the action to themselves. These sets of people are fascinating as the perpetrators rarely see themselves as malefactors. They either believe they are “owed” – which is a case of entitlement mentality – or that the crime is victimless, (so why worry); or they belittle the victims by calling them fools; or they adopt the “I don’t care” state of mind to avoid the issue altogether. Either way, there is always the use of psychological strategies to distance themselves from any sense of guilt.

The irony of the whole scenario is the Nigeria perception of the fraudsters. The level of “ovation”, “hailing”, “kudos”, “respect” and “attractions” to these fraudsters from the society is alarmingly worrisome and on the rise. And this cuts across all ages both old and young. And there is a sense of togetherness amongst these groups of fraudsters which is fast turning into a cartel and brotherhood unity where insider-informants are treated as “snitch”.

The society created these fraudsters and together the society needs to kill it before it kills the society. If there is decadence in the society, there is invariably an abeyance in parenting and child raising. This is a collective struggle and all hands must be on deck to correct the anomaly which is fast becoming a normalcy. No matter the level of rot created by this monster, the time to act is now. A stitch in time…

  • William Ayegba O. wanucci@yahoo.co.uk
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