THE RISE OF THE BAFEERE INDUSTRY.

Bafeere is a Luganda word used for con artists and scammers. They are currently on the rise, both in numbers and in skill. You never know where or when you might have the misfortune of meeting one because they are currently spread out across the country and come in all shapes.

A number of years back, in about 2009 NTV Uganda had a program called tricksters and a number of us enjoyed it. We were always eager for it and would often find the cons funny and laugh at the gullibility of those that fell prey to the con artists. But apparently, while the majority found it amusing and probably forgot all about it the moment the program ended, there were those that were acquiring skills and attaining an education (weird, right). If you think about it, the funniest thing of all is that we laughed at people on the show for being gullible but in reality, we are more gullible.


There are a number of ways these scammers and con artists operate. But over the years they get smarter and smarter. About five years back before almost everyone was on social media, the scams took place in person or over the phone. Those that took place in person were usually of someone claiming to have picked money and it was usually either a bundle of dollars or a bundle of 1000 Uganda shilling notes. They would tell you that they would like to share it with you but are in a hurry. So there is no time to count how much but if you could give them about fifty thousand Uganda shillings to about three hundred thousand shillings from your own money, they would let you keep the bundle that had been picked. And if you were greedy enough and had the money they asked for you would happily give it to them. Then they would rush away leaving you to count the money. By the time you realized you had been left with a just paper they would be long gone.


Another way of scamming people was on the phone. A person was usually given a call and told that they had won some money and prizes. This was about four years back. For some reason, they preferred the Airtel network (I’m guessing because of the free offers they always have). After letting a person know they had won prizes they would ask you how close you are to a shop and tell you to go get some airtime. But while you were off to the shop you were not to hang up and apparently weren’t to tell people about it either because they would be jealous of you. After getting the airtime you were to call a number, and the person you were calling was to give you instructions on how to get your prizes and this usually involved sending money for them to transport your things to you. Then you wouldn’t hear from them again. Still on the use of phones to scam, there was a lot of them that would call people up and claim that they had sent you their money by mistake but that if you could send it back they would leave you with some. During the call they would send a message notifying you that you had received money. And if you said you weren’t seeing it on your account they would claim it was still in transit and would ask you to send them whatever you had at the time. People were usually smart and didn’t send them money so there were few victims.

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However with social media scammers have gotten more creative and smarter. The common ones are those that target unemployed people and kind people. Currently the rate of unemployment is too high that even university graduates are forced to apply for jobs that can be done by one that only has an S4 and S6 certificate. So the scammers open up fake accounts and pretend to be job agencies. They usually post job openings with minimum qualifications being an S4 and S6 certificate and this excites a number of desperate frustrated unemployed youth who spend half their days on social media. There is usually a number to call for more information including details on the jobs. The most commonly posted job opening is that of a receptionist. And usually, their posts include attractive salaries and sometimes even benefits of the job. These posts will have an unemployed person feeling like God has been hearing their prayers all along and has sent an answer. The people that fall prey are usually desperate enough they don’t stop to consider the likelihood of it being a scam since it’s not really heard of for a job that requires one with just S4 papers to have transport and feeding allowance. And they don’t usually become suspicious when asked for a connection fee by the people that they have called. One would feel it’s only fair since they are getting a good job. And to sell the lie these people give you an email address to send your academic papers and CVs. After you send the money they don’t put off their phones immediately, they assure you they are working on you. My guess is that they tell you so not to raise your suspicions and so that they can scam a few more people before they put their phones off.


Those that scam kind-hearted people usually post stories that pull one’s heartstrings. For example, they may post about a family that is made up of only blind people and is struggling so hard. These stories are usually accompanied by photos of said family and a whole story of how they are suffering. I have to applaud this particular lot because they craft really sad stories that have one feeling like they really should do something for the family. And only God knows where they get the photos they use. And they are craftier in a way that they don’t ask for money they just ask for help for the family. They tell you that you can help in any way and that even a bar of soap would go a long way in helping the unfortunate family. As a humanitarian one rushes to give what they can because let’s face it no one is going to consider giving soap. Everyone will consider giving money however little. And the thing with this scam is that unless you read comments and find someone that has provided a link claiming the post or photo is old you may never know that you were scammed. This is because through a number of people will contribute what they can, only a few will send sums that require follow up and getting to know how their money was used. So you are scammed and none the wiser.


I urge you to be careful with the people you deal with, con artists and scammers are getting smarter and more creative every single day. And I can assure you however smart you are, you can still fall prey to them. They come across smart people every day and their scams fail so they are always “updating” them to cater for glitches that can be spotted.