Family Scams: Is Blood Thicker Than Water?

For centuries now, we have been taught the culture to love our family members and hold them with more enthusiasm and care. A single family member is better than having none, they say. That goes with the notion ‘half bread is better than none’.

This points out that thousands of people are out there with no family to run to, speak to or even to get a ‘blood comfort’. Either way amongst the existing number of family members today in the world, how well do they treat themselves? Perhaps not too well or is it even well at all? Well reading about family scamming in Nigeria is an apology.

In Nigeria scamming or theft is a general way of life of people starting from the top of the societal ladder to the bottom of a layman. We have various ways in which family scams are practiced, or better put, there are different ways family scam perpetrators attack their preys. There is the Paternal Fraud (scam), Family Will Scamming Scheme, ‘The Kidnap syndrome’, Land and Property Family Scam, Cultural Blackmail over Maternal Inheritance.

Paternity Fraud

Paternal Fraud in Nigeria is a very common scandalous act in our culture, says an ‘anonymous’ person during her interview, as she emphasized on the persistence in the southern part of Nigeria.

“Women marry for the sake of shelter, money and to avoid what people will say when they eventually are approached by Mr. Right. Some who are already pregnant are forced to attach the pregnancy to an innocent man they are already having sexual intercourse with as far as he is “well to do” (financially okay).

Madam Anonymous shared a story slightly related to paternity fraud back in 2003. Her brother’s ex-wife got married to a rich man and tried to change her children’s surname to the man’s name without her ex-husband’s consent even when he is very much alive. At the time they were not legally divorced either.

This case was vis-a-vis as the rich man did the same thing for his children, putting his lover’s name as the mother of his children on their birth certificates too. Madam Anonymous could testify that at that time her brother was a nobody likewise the rich man’s ex-wife. However, luckily for her brother he worked for a big man who passionately helped him through the case with his influence after threats-of jailing the poor man.

Unfortunately, for the rich man’s wife she was an illiterate and had nobody, neither was she given custody over her children. According to Madam Anonymous, this prevailed for 21years until 2 years ago before her children came to locate her themselves. What would we call a case like this? misidentification of paternal and maternal sides?

Read also: NA SAKE KI: Divorce in the North

According to family fraud large scale research in 2014, 6 out of 10 scandalous situations of elder financial scams are committed by relatives. 3 out of 10 cases can be traced back to friends, neighbors or home care aides. This clearly tells us something, that 90 percent of ‘scam-mists’ are known to their victims, unfortunately.

The kidnap syndrome

There are many kidnap cases that happen too frequently in Nigeria. Many have left a kidnapping standard where fraudsters are obliged to blackmail their loved ones of an outrageous amount of money. They only target the high net worth individuals such as businessmen, politicians, traditional rulers and so on.

Some of these young adults who are children of the high targets in Nigeria are said to plan their kidnappings themselves due to the short ration they are fed from home. Although there are no true statistics showing the rates. These individuals would go through lengthiness for anything at the cost of their relative’s happiness.

In 2010, there was a case of a missing child, Isabella whose parents lived in Abuja. Isabella got missing after she was taken to school at closing school-hours. After a few hours, Isabella’s kidnappers called home to inform her parents she was with them and request for a ransom of 5 million Nigerian Naira.

The parents not knowing how to believe the kidnappers tried calling the school teacher to find out if their daughter was truly kidnapped. Unfortunately, for them the teacher was also in their custody. The parents had no choice than to dance to the kidnappers’ tune, the kidnapping syndrome.

After their daughter and the teacher got released, they decided to report the case to a police friend. After some questioning and investigations, they found out that the younger brother to the husband was part of the perpetrators. As questionable receipts were found in the house, including large amounts of unusual spendings immediately after the event happened.

Well, the kidnapping could have been organized by a group of total strangers. However, betrayal knows no blood nor boundaries. We have to be more careful about who we trust.

Family Land Disputes

We have seen brothers and sisters fight and kill over land and property. Watching Nigerian movies is definitely enough an example to explain the reality of these forms of dehumanizing adventures. People are very nice to each other but when it comes to what brings the bread to the table. Unfortunately, people who sit on the chairs would steer things around. There are no doubts there are selfish and greedy people out there this does not rule out having them as family members.

A family of four lived beautifully until a sudden morning the children lost their parents in a car accident. After a few days of mourning their parents, the family elders decided to pay a visit. Not only did they visit they came with a motive, but the daughters of the deceased parents were also adults who in the southeastern part of Nigeria were still single. The elders who thought a man from the family needed to handle the affairs of their late brother were concerned about the female adults inheriting their father’s property.

Apparently in their culture women weren’t allowed then to be certificate owners of lands at the time. These girls struggled to get their grounds, and with the help of their dad’s lawyer, (the dad who wisely left his will with the lawyer). Became their saving grace. At the time they decided to leave the country due to the threats on their lives. They were banned from the village, lost their dads entitlement back home. They had to forgo them and go for their legal inheritance.

I believe there are still a reasonable amount of good people in the world and in every family. There are families that are so admirable and there are the really sad ones. Family scams are as real as family love, however, there is a necessity for awareness against these kinds of scandalous acts. This starts by sharing our basic experiences and precautions on platforms that encourage such like