Saturday, April 7, 2012
In less than 30minutes, with the Branch Manager overseeing the entire thing, I got my money back! Elated, I walked out of the banking hall, humming a tune and feeling rather satisfied with myself. All was alright with the world until I got a call from Juliet O. several hours later - "Ah, Enkay, I got the alert but when I went to the bank they said there was no money there..." Suddenly I began to feel sorry for her. I had promised to send her something and she was there in another city probably stranded. The earnestness in her voice made me feel ashamed of my thoughts earlier. Juliet O. had been instrumental to the increased response we had received so far towards the planning of our reunion and there I was thinking she wanted to scam me. "Em..yes...the branch where I paid the money had some technical issues just be patient, it would be resolved..." I lied.
Juliet O. called me several times over the next few days and she did a good job of pestering me without outrightly seeming to be. I cannot explain it. The voice on the other end of the line was appealing and begging without the kind of groveling that would have put me off. Juliet O. was giving facts and figures of this business deal of hers and how it was just this sum that was required to seal it all off. Eventually, I succumbed. I went o another branch of the bank a few days later and paid in the money and as I did so, my heart sank. Somehow, I suspected that I had been scammed but it seemed I was powerless in the matter.
As you may have guessed by now, the story went down hill from there.
1 week after the deadline Juliet O. gave for returning the money my suspicion was gradually becoming fact.
Juliet O. picked my every call and with that mousy voice of hers, gave one excuse after the other. But I was patient. A few days later, Juliet O. called to tell me she finally had the money and could I re-send my account details? I could hardly believe my ears! I was going to get my money back! I waited endlessly for the credit alert but it never came. This was a Friday. I was unable to reach Juliet O. until the following Monday. She was sniffing and sounded like someone who had been crying. I knew it was yet another tale but nothing prepared me for what Juliet O. told me next.
According to her, she had spent the entire weekend in a police cell. Inwardly, I slapped my palms together in that way a Nigerian woman would when she meant to say "Wonders shall never end" in an incredulous manner.
"On my way to the bank, that Friday, a little girl was crossing the street on her way from school and it all happened so fast, I ran over her..." her voice trailed off.
"Ah! My God, that's terrible!" I exclaimed. Surely no one would tell lies with such a thing?
Juliet O. found her voice again ..."We rushed to the hospital and I spent all the money I had....." I rolled my eyes, yeah right, so that was where my money went eh?
Just so I didn't sound like an unfeeling debt collector I asked "But the little girl is going to be okay?".
At that question, Juliet O. let out a sob that made me cringe "...no, the girl died last night..."
Juliet was really crying now and I was the one consoling her. This wahala she had got herself into seemed like it was far greater than whatever amount of money she owed me. I just could not imagine being responsible for the death of a little girl.
Just before the call ended, Juliet O. started saying something about getting my money to me somehow, I cut in and told her to take as much time as she needed.
In the mean time, the plans for the reunion were underway and a meeting had been scheduled with Senior Amina Bello (She had successfully held a reunion in the London a few years before). Another Committee member Tola Peters* who was a set below Juliet O. was to attend the meeting with me.
At the meeting I mentioned to Tola Peters that Juliet O. was in big trouble. "How so?" she asked.
"She had an accident in which a little girl was run over. She was the one driving...."
Tola smiled sadly "Hmm, yes. It was really a tough time for Juliet O."
I nodded "The little girl died"
Tola looked alarmed "She died?!" I nodded yes.
"Ah, all I heard was that the little girl's family had Juliet arrested and that they planned to take Juliet's daughter away from her..."
Tola seemed so familiar with Juliet O's story but the incident only just happened....wait a minute, Juliet has a daughter too?
"Em, Tola, when exactly did this accident of Juliet's happen?" I asked, my heartbeat racing.
Tola looked up at the ceiling as though mentally calculating. "That should be 7years ago now...ah she called to ask me for money saying that she needed to pay some hospital bills...."
I was no longer listening to Tola....
It suddenly dawned on me that Juliet O.was indeed a Professional Con and I had just been scammed. Big time!
By the time Senior Amina Bello joined us, she wanted to know what it was we were talking about that had me looking so crestfallen.
We told her. And that was when I revealed that I had given Juliet O. some money for a business deal.
"Haba! So you mean you people have not heard the Juliet O. story?!"
That was when Senior Amina started telling us the Legend of Juliet O.