By Augustine Ehikioya
Not a few people have regretted their friendship to some people who pose as friends on social media platforms.
These people they trusted on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social media handles, turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Many victims didn’t live to tell the story or had the opportunity to regret their mistakes in trusting someone they never knew but met online.
Those online criminals and scammers have adopted several methods to sway and lure their preys for physical meetings, leaving behind rape cases, murder, blackmail, robberies, and empty bank accounts, among other consequences, to unsuspecting individuals.
With the increasing online crimes globally, hardly a day goes by without some Nations recording such ugly incidences.
A most recent case was in South Africa where a Facebook serial rapist, who was arrested in May, 2020, was on Monday 15th May, 2023 sentenced to three life term and 280 years imprisonment at the Makhanda High court for luring unsuspecting Facebook friends and raping them.
For two years, the convict, Khululekani Justin Ngqeza’s (36), had lured several teenage and young women online before setting up physical meetings with them to perpetuate his evil intentions.
To ensure her citizens don’t fall prey for such online scam and crimes again, South Africa has taken new measures to enlighten her citizens.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) has released fresh hints to enlighten her citizens more in order not to fall prey of crimes emanating from online platforms.
One of the flier, entitled ‘Internet Safety, Be AWARE, connect with CARE,’ said “Never ignore the following danger signs: If the person insists on having your address; If the person wants you to send them or phone number, photos of yourself or use a webcam in a way which makes you feel uncomfortable; If the person shares information with you and tells you not to tell anyone else about it.”
“If the person emails you photos that make you feel uncomfortable; If the person wants to keep their chats with you secret; If the person wants to meet you in person and tells you not to inform anyone.”
Another flier gave its meaning for every letter in SMART.
Giving SAFE for the first letter S, it said “Strangers as friends, is simply not a good idea. Practice safety, never give out personal info online to people you do not know.”
While the second letter M stands for MEETING, it said “Practice extreme caution, don’t meet up with someone you only have been chatting to online. Your safety might be at risk.”
Giving the meaning for the third letter A to be ACCEPTING, it said “Never accept friend requests from strangers, as you could put yourself at risk. The person might not be who they say they are.”
Revealing that the fourth letter R stands for RELIABLE, it said “Not everyone or everything we see online is trustworthy or reliable, verify if someone is really who they say they are.”
Noting that the last letter T stands for TELL, it said “Trust your instinct, if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, report and tell a trusted adult.”
The flier also went further to give information on how the authorities can be easily reached for help.
It said “Crime Stop: 08600 10111. SAPS’s Emergency Number: 10111 Childline Helpline: 116
“Website: www.saps.gov.za | Mobile App: MySAPS App.” It added.
While the measures adopted by the South Africa authorities will go a long may to safeguard the citizens, they will be more effective if they are in various media forms and in the various South African languages and dialects.
With the messages reaching everyone in the country, online scams and crimes will be drastically reduced in South Africa.
When this is done, only those who wants to reap where they did not sow may likely fall for such online scam and crimes.