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05.04.2007 General News

Nearly Swindled

It was 7.00 p.m. on October 13, 2006. The city was bustling with activities here and there. One could hear the frequent honking of the horns of vehicles as they whizzed by and the ear-splitting music from the night-clubs.

It was during that time that I arrived in Accra from Ho. As a result of the NAGRAT strike, I decided to leave school for home to attend classes, since none was being organised in my school.

I alighted from the vehicle and pushed my way through the teeming crowd on the street. The crowd was so thick that I found it difficult to find my way, especially in the mass of moving bodies.

Not so sure I was walking on the right lane, I crossed over to the other side of the road. I had walked for barely a minute when I realised I was on the wrong lane.

I, therefore, decided to cross back. I walked over to the pedestrian crossing and just as I was about to cross, someone tapped me from behind. I turned to face a man of about 35 years. He had bushy hair, an unkempt moustache and wore a stripe T-shirt and faded jeans. His shoes were worn out.

“Good evening, my friend,” he greeted me. “Can you please direct me to the main station?”

“Well, that's where I'm heading to so we can walk together,” I answered, as we crossed over to the other side of the road. While we were on the other side, we diverted our course onto a dark narrow path.

“Hmm, you see, I have just arrived from Ho. On our way back our car broke down. Therefore, I had to walk the rest of the journey to Accra,” he said. “But I am very fortunate; I won a lottery and I'm to cash it at the VAT office but I do not know where it is situated.”

With that, he removed a crumpled envelope from his back pocket and displayed its contents to me. It contained fresh-looking CFA notes. I marvelled at how someone should be keeping such a huge amount of money on him.

“So where do you think I can locate the VAT office?” he asked.

From nowhere, a voice answered, “Cross over to the left wing of the main road and move straight. You will get there.” I turned to face the one giving the direction and my eyes met those of a tall man who stood right behind us.

It appeared he had been eavesdropping on our conversation.

“Thank you very much for helping. God bless you,” the man said, and with that he began to leave. He had not gone far when he came striding back.

“I forgot to tell you something,” he spoke up. He removed a crumpled paper from his breast pocket. He unfolded it and showed it to me. With the help of the dim light provided by the moon, I could make out the word “lotto” written below the paper.

At that point a second man had joined us. He stood next to the man who had joined us earlier. My 'friend' said it was the same paper he had used to win the lottery and was optimistic that when we staked the lotto, we would win. He then proceeded to teach us the procedure with which we could win the lottery.

To cut a long story short, all he said made no sense to me. Before telling us the secret numbers, he made the two other men promise to buy him soft drink each. My 'friend' then turned to me, a cunning look spread across his face, and he asked me to buy him a drink too.

I had only ¢7,000 in my pocket to use as transport fare for the rest of the journey home. I hesitated at first, before finally giving him ¢2,000 from my back pocket.

My 'friend' asked me to bring out all the money I had, since it was part of the deal. He then plunged his hands into my pocket and succeeded in bringing out the remaining ¢5,000 which I was hiding.

This was when I became suspicious and snatched my money from him. I realised he was a confidence trickster and as such a fraud.

“Thank you for your 'lotto', but I don't need it,” I shot angrily at him. Before I realised what was going on, all three men had disappeared as quickly and stealthily as they had come. It was then that I realised that the other two men who had joined us on the way were his accomplices.

By Lawrence Mawuli Amevor,

Mawuli Secondary School