Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos is Nigeria’s largest market for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) accessories, but the place where people are most easily scammed. We had planned a list about how to buy credible second-hand gadgets in Computer Village, but in the middle of it and while talking to the dealers we switched to a story about how people are being scammed at the famous Lagos Gadget Market.
Indeed, after talking to people who have spent their entire working lives in the popular village, one thing became clear: there is only one way to buy gadgets in Computer Village without getting scammed.
According to talks, there is a seven-day guarantee on the gadgets. This is a standard in the market – something of an unspoken rule. So if you notice glitches in this window, you can return the gadget.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me give you three common ways you can get scammed.
Buy from ghosts
There is a basic standard that people get scammed in Computer Village. Buy a gadget from the mostly young men hanging around the side of the road trying to convince you to buy anything you want from them.
Here is a typical scenario:
You are being offered a “used” device at a price ridiculously cheaper than the market price. You get the gadget to touch and test. Then they will take you off the street to a crowded sidewalk around a building and ask you to pay while they pack the device. Once you make a payment, you’ll be given a boxed device and asked to hide it well. They’ll warn you about scamps who might snatch it from you knowing how cheap you got it.
So you will protect the package with your whole life until you maybe get to safety or reach your house. Then you’ll find that the packaging is a plastic phone case filled with white bar soap or fufu (a Nigerian cassava staple).
They will say they own a shop in the market. But they run on red flags with no official addresses. There is no return ticket to cheating.
People I spoke to for this story said that 10 times out of 10 they don’t own a business. “Since they don’t have a specific place to stay, they can do anything. You know you won’t find them there when you go back there,” said Sunday, who has been in the business for 5 years.
what’s more There is no central command point where you can report and remedy the situation. Everyone is an invisible individual who has come to hustle. Still, they have a strong community of players. If you happen to find your robber, you’ll be surprised at how quickly he can change the narrative, and you could end up being the culprit.
It’s a very evil game!
The latest in town
The second popular scan type, based on what shopkeepers have told me, is pretty harrowing to say the least.
Christian, who has owned a business in Computer Village for five years, minus the years he spent as an apprentice, told me the most fascinating story. So here’s what they do:
You go on Instagram, create an account or buy an account with followers or buy followers or steal someone’s account. So the account looks credible. Then they start posting pictures of gadgets. They will put an address in the place.
Like a regular gadget seller on Instagram, they update prices based on market standards. Their prices are not cheaper or more expensive. Make the mistake of sliding into her DMS and it’s over almost immediately.
Christain told me how he got a call that someone wanted to buy a phone and pay cash on delivery. So he had one of his salespeople handle the delivery rather than a shipping driver. He said he found it odd that the buyer kept insisting that a courier bring the phone. So his sales person comes to the location and the buyer tells him that he is not at home but his brother is at home and will pay for the phone.
He meets the man who doesn’t say much and gives him the phone to test to make sure it works. It works. And so the man he meets decides to make a transfer to pay for the phone. All of this is common practice.
Now Christian’s employees are waiting for the payment confirmation, which the buyer thinks he has paid, unless there is no confirmation. The money doesn’t come. Both realize what happened. Someone has been scammed. Who it is depends on the more opinionated person.
The man who made the transfer does not get a phone. The person who told him he was selling phones, the scammer, had warned him not to pay the shipping driver. He was told to test the phone and then make a transfer to the account number sent to him.
They had both communicated with what could be the same person, a woman.
Christian said that you can call this trick the latest in town. “That’s how he got scammed,” Christain said. These scammers spend a lot of time posting Google-targeted ads, unpacking gadget videos, and posting testimonials from happy customers.
But mostly it’s all lies.
Sight Glass Scam
If a price is too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true.
You go to one of the sight glass shops. These aren’t actually shops, but they are close by. The phones are priced, but they’re pretty damn cheap. You could say it’s too cheap. You buy the phone and then you realize something is wrong. But it’s hard to pinpoint as the phone seems to work flawlessly.
But then the display is off and the phone doesn’t look like your friend’s who has the same phone. You have probably been scammed. What you are holding is a copy made in China; what one likes to call “refurbished”, but is not and was not an original.
You may have seen those Apple ads promoting refurbished iPhones. That’s not it. Although many people mistakenly refer to them as refurbished phones, they are not.
They are copies of the phones that are shipped to Nigeria to be sold cheaply there.
You bought it from a sight glass shop and now realized it’s not the original and you have to return it. Thing is in Ikeja, you won’t get your money back. What you get is another working version of the phone.
If you buy an iPhone 11 from a store and you come home and it’s not working properly and you have to return it, you won’t get a refund. What you get is another iPhone 11 that works perfectly.
As I said at the beginning of this article, the only way not to get scammed at Ikeja’s Computer Village is to go to a store, I mean store, and buy whatever you want.
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