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Don’t give your hard-earned money to online strangers

I know what some of you are thinking. How is catfishing even remotely related to Geek culture?

We discussed scams a few weeks ago. While the article got the point across, it wasn’t necessarily exhaustive. It ignored a crucial threat plaguing naive internet users. But before I explain the connection between Geek culture and catfishing, we should probably explain catfishing to the uninitiated.

Here is how it works: I am male. I want easy money. Rather than finding legitimate work, I scour Facebook, identify accounts with beautiful women, and save their pictures. Then, I post those pictures on a new Facebook account with a fake name. Because my photographs seem so natural, people will assume I’m a real woman.

And once I initiate contact, you will lose your mind because you can’t believe that a woman as beautiful as me is talking to you. Eventually, I will ask for lunch (or breakfast). I will limit my request to 10,000 shillings, which does not sound like a lot. But here’s the thing. I am sending that request to dozens of men daily, and most are happy to oblige because the amounts are small.

Also, they think that 10k will pave the way for a relationship down the line. What if you insist on a date? That’s perfect because I will ask for 30k or more in transport, keep you waiting for an hour or two, and then concoct some excuse explaining why I failed to appear.

I can do this six or seven times before you finally see the light. If the woman in my pictures is drop-dead gorgeous, and you are particularly horny, I may wait till you arrive at the meeting spot before asking you to send me more money to resolve an emergency, all the while claiming that I’m still on the way.

If I have six fake accounts targeting hundreds of men each day, I can make enough to meet my monthly needs. But here is the problem. Geek culture is still alien to Ugandans. You can walk Kampala’s streets for hours without finding anyone who even knows what the word ‘anime’ means.

As such, many nerds can go months without talking to another person about their hobbies and interests. Why does that matter? Because scammers are starting to target them.

Nerds are smart enough to identify conventional scammers. However, some stop thinking once they see attractive men and women online whose interests mirror their own. Dating websites are especially notorious in this arena.

Profiles with pictures of attractive women are quick to flaunt their obsession with anime, manga, video games, and the like. Nerds, who are starved of like-minded companionship, have a habit of taking the bait.

That does not mean every attractive person on the internet with nerdy interests is a scammer. However, they should give you pause. At the very least, don’t be stupid enough to send money to people you don’t know.

Insist on a face-to-face meeting. And if they are genuinely too poor to transport themselves to the meeting spot, go and pick them up. You can even share a boda boda to the restaurant. Fight the urge to give your hard-earned money to online strangers. Also, make sure the meeting spot is public. Don’t be so foolish as to visit a random woman’s home alone.

Yes, she is a woman; physically, you are stronger than she is. But what happens when you walk into her room and close the door, only to find a dozen of her biggest male friends waiting to cut your belly open and scoop out your organs?

Also, don’t post every picture you take. Limit the people who can access your social media profile to close friends and family. You can also use Google to do a reverse search of your pictures to see if they appear anywhere else. The internet is a deadly place. Apply caution while swimming in its waters.


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