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Malawi panics over Nigerian 419 messages

- Masterweb News Desk

( Monday, Junel 23, 2008 )

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"One of them, Chinyeke Tembo a journalist in Lilongwe said he could no longer access his mail as his password has been changed by the crooks."

Some Malawians in recent weeks have been panicking over messages they are receiving that some of their colleagues and relatives are stranded in Nigeria after losing their cash during workshops held in Lagos.

Apparently, some people living in Malawi and have Yahoo! addresses have had their emails hacked into by some unscrupulous Nigerians operating from a secret resort in Nigeria.

Once hacked in, the Nigerians are sending messages to everyone in that person’s phone book, informing them of their colleague’s desperate situation in Nigeria.

One of them, Chinyeke Tembo a journalist in Lilongwe said he could no longer access his mail as his password has been changed by the crooks.

Tembo narrated: "Some friends are calling me from the UK and Zambia, saying they had received information from me through my email that I am stranded in Lagos and need help in form of money. That is not true.

"Janet Karim, at the Malawi Embassy in the USA also received such alarming information and called my friend Mayeso Chirwa at the American Embassy here in Lilongwe asking whether I was being assisted in Nigeria. Mayeso told her I was in Lilongwe all hale and hearty.

"My daughter, tensed up, also phoned from Zambia to confirm my situation. I have also had a few phone calls from fellow journalists trying to find out what was happening to me. It is so embarrassing."

Frank Phiri, of ZK Advertising Agency in Blantyre said Chinyeke was the second person he knew to experience this.

"The first one was my uncle Mr. Steve Taulo, a lecturer at the Polytechnic (University of Malawi) and currently in Norway defending his PhD," explained Phiri.

"In March, we received his hacked distress e-mails. The two emails said he was stranded at a certain high profile hotel in Lagos. There was need to fork out US$6,700 at the time," he said.

The family panicked. Innocently buying into the prank, Phiri contacted his sister ZK Advertising office in Nigeria to assist, only to learn that the details of the said hotel, the manager where he was stranded were fake.

In addition, academic staff and colleagues at the Polytechnic also panicked and were about to start arranging to send the funds.

Later Taulo called from Norway to say travelling to Nigeria is never part of his study itinerary.

The messages are asking people to send the money by Western Union.

"It's a pity how long it takes to build contacts through e-mail only to lose them because of hackers from Lagos. The problem is that actually most of these Ninjas are not in Nigeria as such. We allow co-habiting with them in our townships from where they are creating all these problems," said one Malawian who fell prey to the hackers.

Source: Nyasa Times, Malawi

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