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    By Sunday Ajibola Edobor

 These days that technology, particularly, the internet has turned everyone into a recluse of sorts, numerous people now depend on tools, which are offshoots of the modern day invention. With telegram, whattsapp and others, communication has become a piece of cake. And the world, our world, is a global village as predicted by Marshall McLuhan decades ago.

And the internet also came with its attendant human frailties. Internet fraud, such as card scam and yahoo are two offshoots of the technological advancement. Many have been duped via these vehicles. Money, materials and documents have been stolen, causing the owners trauma and immeasurable monumental losses of cash and other valuables.

   I was battling with personal physical woes which had knocked me off active participation in anything worthwhile, when a whattsapp call came in. The intruder said he got my number from a christian platform I belonged to. He told me about a Zoom meeting scheduled for later in the day, 8pm to be precise. He wanted to know if I had got the  Zoom meeting details and I answered in the negative. The guy then asked me to dictate any six number I could recollect easily. I gave him the first figures. Unsatisfied, he asked for another, which I was dictating, when the alarm bell in my head sounded. I was woken up from slumber, as I smelt a rat. Instantly the reality of falling for the trap of a trickster hit me like a thunderbolt. I snapped the conversation and put the phone in flight mode. That was the beginning of many hours of mental torture.

   The next thing I saw was that I could not see my whattsapp conversations; the app had gone blank. I ruminated over what this mess meant. I intensified my efforts to get it to function properly. However, every attempt I made yielded no fruit. Eventually, I was asked to provide the email I used for double verification. Doing that, I got a six digit number to reclaim the whattsapp. After I had imputed the number, the next dialogue requested the double verification number. l supplied what I could remember. It was not correct. I tried again, again and again. On each occasion I had to take ten minutes break to try again. Out of fear of what might be happening, I deleted the application and downloaded another. Still same story. It was getting to nine (9pm).

   Meanwhile, in my head, I had
the picture of a birthday video I needed to produce against next day. Apprehension was growing within me. Many thoughts were going on in my head: perhaps the guy whose call precipitated the disruption had accessed my Whattsapp. The implication of this is that he would become the owner of my Whattsapp page. And has thereby replaced me in all the groups I belong and subscribed to. I put a call across to a friend to know if anyone had posted anything on our group platform with my number. He said nothing like that had taken place. I asked the drummer boy to send me a text which was not delivered, anyway. I asked myself, is there any group or page where I store my numerous passwords in my whattsapp? I calmed myself down, saying those were in my notepad, email and telegram. Do l need to change the phone number as suggested by Whattsapp? Meanwhile, my gaze was fully on the phone to see maybe the Whattsapp would come up. The message remained, "input the six  double verification number you registered with us." Everytime I pressed the back button, it was asking me to supply the six numbers sent to my email, which it did not re-send. My state of partial incapacitation coupled with this apprehension made me to hit the sack much later. I was exhausted more mentally than physically.

    Early the following morning, I was up and out of bed. WhatsApp or not, I opted for production of the video.  I did one with the oldest app I have. I jettisoned it. I produced another. This time, l loved it. I turned my attention to the uncooperative WhattsApp to ascertain if it had chosen to be reasonable. On looking at it, the request was that I should add the double verification code. Considered as pis aller and an opportunity that should not be missed, I ruminated on what that could be, by making sure I did not use any of the ones it spurned, yesterday.

    There and then, I recollected that I chose a number that had nothing to do with the ones I had been used to. As I supplied it, my Whattsapp came alive with nothing missing. A day after, another nonentity put a call across to me. He used same technique of his partner-in-scam predecessor. "I got your number from a Whattsapp group you are. Are you aware of a meeting slated for later in the day?"
In annoyance, I replied with  truncation of the call. If I, who is not a novice can be taken through that unsavoury experience on my phone, how can ordinary man, woman out there escape these fraudsters?
The bottom line is this: as long as you are on any Social Media or have an e mail address, you are at risk of having your handle or page hacked. People have been defrauded of millions of naira, through phone calls or messages.
However, measures have been put in place by owners of these platforms to safeguard we the users. We are allowed and encouraged to have our phone numbers and additional emails for verification purposes. What this means is that in case someone tries to access your account using another phone, iPad or laptop, such would be asked to provide a number sent to your e mail or phone number. In such situation, you will get the information. Thereby, the challatan will fail.

All said and done, the reality is that no human invention is perfect. To say the internet is a blessing to humanity will be an understatement. The merits we derive using the inventions, are inestimable. Every living being is enjoying it one way or another, though not in same proportion. Yet, there are pitfalls, which are causing many to cry bitterly. These disadvantages are not products of the internet but we humans, the end users.

Log out of all platforms after usage. Keep your passwords under wraps, away from your phone. You can write them somewhere else: jotter, diary and any other place.

A stitch in time, they say saves nine.
Ogun agbotele kii pa aro to ba gbon.


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