By Bunmi Sofola
Two interesting stories recently popped up in the British press which showed how pathetic some women would getÂ to â€œpullâ€ a stud, Jane Ngarmdji, a 58 year-old Briton told of how she was ‘swept off her feet’ by the Nigerian man she met in a Gambian club.
Her story: â€œWe were standing around chatting with a friend when I felt a gentle tug at my elbow. I turned my head to see a pair of dark brown eyes staring into mine. They belongedÂ to a handsome young man. would you like to dance?’ he asked. He twirled me around the dance floor for one song after another. When we finally stopped, he bought me a drink and we sat down to catch our breath. ‘My name is Michael,’ He said, ‘I’m from Nigeria’.
And this began a whirlwind holiday romance that lasted the few weeks Jane spend in Gambia.â€ I love you,â€ Michael blurted as she got ready to leave for home. â€œMaybe I should have doubted him,â€ continued Jane, â€œafter all, he was young enough to be my son. But there was a look in his eyes that convinced me. I said: ‘I love you too, Michael.’ When I got home, we phoned and texted.
Michael told me of his plans to start a minibus business. I agreed to help him raise the money and soon I’d given him Â£3,500, six months later, I flew back to the Gambia. Michael paid for us to stay in an apartment together, â€œ So we can get to know each other better? He said with a wink. A few days later, he got down on one knee and said: â€œWill you marry me?’ ‘yes,’ I said, ‘I will’. Michael grinned from ear to earâ€’
Poor Jane, she had no idea the proper rip-off would start after their funny-looking Gambian wedding.
â€œIn spite of protests from friends and family including her ex-husband, she went ahead with the wedding after Michael assured her his business was in Gambia and .he had no wish to follow Jane to Britain. â€œThe next day after the wedding, Michael came home with a stack of papers,â€ said Jane. What are these?’ I asked ‘They are for my British visa,’ he replied. I was confused, I said: ‘I thought you didn’t want to go to Britain. You said we’d stay here and start a business.’ ‘But we can make more money in Britain,’ he replied. I was disappointed but filled the forms. Then I flew home to wait for him,’
When he finally arrived, he moved in with his gullible bride and. got a job at a garage as a mechanic. He never gave me any moneyâ€ Jane said. I paid for our rent, food and going out. But I didn’t complain and gave him a lot of freedom. He spent many weekends with a friend. Me also made a lot of friends. One was a boy from Nigeria. We were joking around one evening when Michael slug his arm around the boy and said: ‘Remember, Jane will always 1believe what I tell her. I know women better than ! know maths…’
Then began bewildering behavior and suspicious outings including the humiliating experience of one of Jane’s friends confiding in her Michael had ‘hit’ on her but nothing happened. Jane chose to believe her husband’s denial of the incident. Then came the day Michael left his phone bill at home in his hurry to get away. â€œI tore it open and saw one number repeated over and over again,â€ she said. â€œI picked up my phone and punched it in. it rang and a woman’s voice answered, I said; ‘Hello, who am I speaking to?’ ‘Mandy,’ she answered, ‘why is your number on my husbands phone bill?’ I asked,’ \vho is your husband?’ ‘Michael Nwadike,’ I replied. Mandy said; ‘He’s my boyfriend. We’ve been together for six years,’
‘I was so shocked that I just rang off. Six years? I composed myself, and then phoned Mandy again. Wiere did you meet?1 1 asked. 1in the Gambia,’ she replied. But when do you see him?’ I continued. ‘He stays the weekend sometimes.Â she said. It all became clear. Michael had not been visiting his friend- he had been with Mandy. I told her the date he had said he was on a driving course and she said. ‘! was with him then.’
â€œI had one more question: ‘is the blue BMW your car?’ ‘Yes’ I’d seen pictures of him posing with the car and he’d lied it was a friends car. I hung up and took a deep breath. I was shaking with anger. I phoned Michael and said: ‘I know all about you and Mandy. I want you to take your things and get out? He rushed home and tried to get me to change my mind. He refused to pack so I threw him out and left his belongings in the porch. He moved in with Mandy and kept calling and asking me to take him back^his woman is good to me and got me a job? Ihe said, ‘let me stay with her during the week and I’ll be with you at weekends. ‘He was asking for my permission to keep us both on the go. The cheek of it!
â€œ I wrote to the home office and withdrew my sponsorship. He has asked me for a divorce. I feel humiliated and foolish. I thought he’d married me for love but 1 was wrong.The lesson cost me Â£20,000 and I’ve had to declare myself bankrupt…â€
Debbie Staveley wasn’t as lucky as Jane. Whereas Jane got some romance out of her reckless fling, Debbie never saw her ‘sweetheart.’ â€œThere’s a connection with you Debbie, I’d like to meet you when I’m in Manchester,â€ e-mailed John Thomas, a Nigerian who told her he had a four-year -old girl namedÂ Hermia. More chat -room talk followed then Debbie got a message that Hermia had contracted malaria and needed an operation costing Â£900. He went on to explain that there were no cash machines where he was, and they wouldn’t accept his bank cards. Then he wrote â€œIf it is possible, and I feel terrible for asking, this could you wire me the cash, money directly into your bank account?’
Debbie said: â€œI felt silly agreeing to give cash to a man I’d never met, but 1 could sense his anguish, I was a mother myself. I withdrew the money, which made me go overdrawn, and wired it to John. He said:’thank you so much, my angel.’ Four days later, he returned the money with interest to cover the fees I’d incurred. We started phoning each other every day. John said: ‘I know it sounds silly, but I’m falling in love with you’. ‘Days later, I heard Hermia had suffered a relapse. John sobbed down the phone: ‘Her heart was affected by the malaria and she needs an operation. They’ll put a balloon in her artery to ease the blood flow.’ My mother had had the same operation, so I knew it was serious.
â€œJohn said: ‘It costs thousands.’ I said 1 didn’t have that kind of money except I put it on my credit card. ‘I’ll pay you back, ‘he said. ‘Do you trust me? I said yes, meaning it. I spread the money over five of my credit cards and over the next few days, I sent him Â£9,630.
He thanked me and said that his daughter had been discharged and well enough to fly to Britain. ‘We’re on our way to the airport? Vie said. I was excited. Then later that dayÂ I got a text from his phone. My hands trembled as I read the first few lines… The owner of this phone has been involved in an accident on his way to the airport. Here’s a number you can reach the hospital at…’
â€œI scrolled down but there was no number. Now I was shaking uncontrollably. Was John dead or alive? I called his phone and to my astonishment he answered in a weary voice. ‘Oh, Debbie?’ he cried, ‘Hijackers smashed the window of my car. They took Hermia.’ He began to sob. ‘I’m in the hospital and I’m badly hurt. The kidnappers want Â£5,000 in 48 hours or I won’t see Hermia again! â€œ1 urged him to go to the police but he said Hermia would be killed if he did. John even arranged for me to speak with the ‘kidnappers’ and one of them threatened: ‘We have to have the money in 48 hours. She’s crying. She doesn’t want to come to the phone.’
â€œI couldn’t hear any crying and the kidnappers hung up. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So I called a friend in the police force and told him everything. He listened, then said: ‘oh Debbie, you’ve been conned’ ‘Conned?’ I said. ‘Have you never heard of dating scams?1 1r\e asked, I asked if he was sure this was a scam and he replied that men gained women’s trust through dating sites, using a fake photo, then asked for money to help them through a crisis., I’d sent the money to Nigeria. All we know was that John was based there. I felt used and embarrassed. 1 decided I’d play along in the hope that John would put cash back into my account as he had done before.
I told him I couldn’t get the money he needed. The kidnappers have given us a few extra days’ Vie said. This time, he sounded calm, not like a m â€œI lost my cool. ‘You’re a liar!’ He said: I can’t believe you can say these things.’ Stop putting on an act! I went on, ‘you’re not John from Manchester, you’re a criminal in a Nigerian internet cafe. I bet your photograph’s fake too’ Eventually he confessed. ‘I needed the money Debbie! he said, ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘then he hung up. It was the last I heard of him. The police took up my case but because I had given the money willingly, I couldn’t get it back, I’d lost more than Â£10,000 and it will take me 20years to pay it back…â€
Older women all over the world have always been warned to be wary of gigolos purporting to be in love with comfortably well off women so they could bunk some money off them. But they never learn.Â A simple word like l love you â€˜no matter how insincere it sounds, has always sent them scurrying to their banks and blowing their nest-eggs on opportunities who move on as soon as such cash runs out. When a woman over 50 looks in the mirror, what does she see? A woman growing old gracefully?
Or a woman desperately pinning her hope on the last roll of the dice hoping she’ll come up lucky with a torrid romance with a younger man? I mean how foolish can you get? What strapping man will fall for a wrinkly mildly-aged woman when much younger girls are falling over themselves to be with him? Over and over the stories of victims are told – they never stop ageing women hoping against hope their stories will have happy endings.