I Am A Victim
I am writing this in the hope that others do not fall prey to this same scam. I write this just a few days after learning of the fraud taking place. I want to detail to you events that took place that caused this fraud. I need to preface the fact that the names mentioned had no idea that a fraud was taking place at this time. After my phone call, I was told that the person doing this has been caught doing this before.
This is a well thought out scheme that was done. These people knew just the right things to say to appeal to our Christian duty.
About ten months ago, I was going through my e-mail, and a person asked me some questions about Christianity. He said that he was a Muslim, but was not sure of his faith. Seizing upon the opportunity to teach, I proceeded cautiously with my answers. After six or seven question and my responses over a period of ten days, he asked for me to find a contact person for him to study with.
I knew some names and was in the process of finding a contact for him. I had already made some inquiries on some discussion lists, when he e-mailed me and said that he had made contact with an Ezekiel Akinyemi. This was one of the people I was trying to reach. I was glad that he made contact and even began some correspondence with Ezekiel (remember this is not the real Ezekiel I was talking to).
Ezekiel (according to my correspondence) wrote me and he was excited to have this person contact him and he told me he set up some bible studies. After three weeks, I was excited to receive an e-mail from Ezekiel telling me that this person had been baptized. Due to the fact that this person was Muslim, I considered that his family would wish to harm him. As it turns out, the person was going to retrieve his personal belongings, and says that his family was trying to kill him. In his haste to get away from them, he lost control of his motor scooter and suffered several injuries. That was the reason I and others sent them some money for his medical treatment.
Over the next few months the e-mails came about every three weeks, and were cordial and everything was fine. Then in September, this person asked for prayers for Ezekiel’s wife. Soon after, this person said that his wife needed some medical treatment, even so far as to say she was on dialysis. Then he said she needed an operation that would cost nine thousand dollars. It was at this time this person sent out an e-mail to many people asking for assistance. The e-mail was sent out as if brother Keith Sharp was making the request on behalf of Ezekiel.
These two sent me e-mails asking me for assistance (as it turns out, the e-mails were from the same person). Because foreign checks are unreliable, they requested that checks be sent to me, and I could send the money-grams or western union because I had done this already and was familiar with the process. I reluctantly agreed to assist in this matter (because I truly thought I was helping this gospel preacher).
I soon started receiving checks made out to me of which I deposited in my account and a few days later withdrew the cash and sent the money-gram from the local Wal-mart. I advised each person of what I was doing with their check and advised them when the money would be sent. During this process one of the people who sent me a check put a stop payment on their check which was charged back to my account. This was after I had sent the funds to Nigeria. Soon afterwards, a congregation in Illinois had done the same and five hundred dollars was charged back to my account which put me in negative balance. I sent an e-mail to Keith Sharp, and told him what had happened. He responded that he would contact the church and get me my money back.
After several days I sent an e-mail to both Keith Sharp and Ezekiel telling them that I was hurting financially. I had bills to pay and my checking account was in the negative. This is where the person made a mistake.
He responded from Keith Sharp’s email address and signed the message Ezekiel. Moments later I got a response from Ezekiel which had the identical message. It finally dawned on me that something was not right.
That is when I sought a phone number for Keith Sharp and called him last Saturday evening. Brother Keith told me this unscrupulous person had stolen his e-mail and even his Face-book page and had done this in the past. There were e-mails going all throughout the brotherhood asking for benevolence.
As I understand from Bro. Keith, the real Ezekiel is not in need of benevolence, and is a fine man. Bro. Keith has been to Nigeria several times. Bro. Sharp suggested that no money ever be sent to Nigeria, as there are other ways to give assistance if it is needed.
My biggest fear is that the next time I am asked to assist someone in need, I might decline when in fact it would be legitimate and a brother or sister in Christ would truly be in need, and I would not help them. I am aware that people can give some good stories and ask for assistance. Having the money, and truly believing that you are doing your Christian duty is going to continue and yes there will be fraud taking place. So please use caution in helping brethren. The scammers are getting smarter and when one tactic does not work, they fall back on other tactics.
You may contact Bro. Keith Sharp for verification. I am sure he would not mind.
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