For those who have their dollars or other foreign currencies to convert to the Nigerian currency, being duped is now a major concern in Lagos as touts parading themselves as bureau de change operators are on the prowl.
PUNCH Metro investigation showed that the fraudulent operators could be found in many bureau de change offices in the metropolis.
The touts operate near bureau de change offices on the Island, Muritala Muhammed Airport, Alade Market, Ikorodu, Agege, Sabo, Yaba, Awolowo Road among others to solicit for customers
Our findings reveal that they use many strategies to fleece people of their hard currencies.
The most vulnerable set of people being short-changed are those who change their currencies while remaining in their vehicles.
A man, who fell victim recently, told PUNCH Metro that he was fleeced of N7,000.
Ogunde said as soon as he struck a deal with the currency trader, his cohorts rallied round him and created a chaotic atmosphere
He said, “I left home last Sunday in high spirits to convert his $100 given to me by an American friend. But I was duped at Alade Market.
“When I got there, one of them asked me, ‘how much do you want to change?’ I told him $100and he said I would get N16,000. I told him I would only accept N16,500? He reluctantly agreed.
“The tout gave me some money and I parted with the dollar. When I counted the money he gave me, it was N1,000 less. So, I told him the money was incomplete. He said I should bring it for him to confirm. Then I gave it to him.
“When he counted the money, he admitted that it was N1,000 less. He brought the addition from his pocket and added it to the N15,500.
“He gave the money back to me and as was counting to confirm if it was correct, he and his colleagues started shouting police! police!
“Before I knew what was happening, the whole place became rowdy and some of them started telling me to leave so that policemen would not apprehend them. I did not understand it was their antics to fleece me. I drove off. When I got to a nearby place, I stopped to count the money they gave me and I discovered that N7,000 had been removed.”
He said by the time he got back to inform them that they had defrauded him, he did not meet any one of them.
He called on the relevant authorities to rid the state of the activities of the touts to protect unsuspecting members of the public.
Another victim, who identified himself simply as Goke, said he was fleeced of N5,500 at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja.
He said, “I went to change $100. By the time I settled down to count the money again, I noticed the money was folded in such a way that N1,000 would look like N2,000.
“That was how I was duped. I have gone there many times but did not see the man who duped me. It baffled me that these touts are having a field day with Lagosians without being apprehended.”
Another victim, Ejime Odahieku, said his elder brother sent him $500 from the US to pay his tuition but unfortunately he lost it at Oke-Okoto, Agege.
Odahieku said, “On that day, I went to Oke-Okoto to change $500 my brother gave to me for my tuition. When I reached there, they offered me N168 per dollar. I was so excited.
“When they gave me the equivalent of the dollars, one of them said he would only pay N155 per dollar. I became furious and asked them to give me my dollars back. They gave me $500 back but to my greatest surprise, when I took the currency to another place, they told me the currency was fake.
“The Agege currency traders had given me fake dollars in the place of my genuine ones. When I went back to tell them, I was beaten thoroughly. They even threatened to call police to arrest me.”
Another victim, who identified himself as Adewale Olaleye, was lucky as he understood their antics quickly and called for police assistance.
Adewale said, “They did the same thing to me at Ikeja. When I discovered that I had been fleeced of about N9,000, I quickly called the police
“Then I went back and pretended that I wanted to change other dollars. I sought to see the man who bought the first one from me. As soon as I saw him, I held him and later arrested him with the help of a policeman.”
However, an operator, who identified himself simply as Danladi, urged Nigerians to always ignore touts and roadside operators.
“If you want to change your currency, go do the offices direct. Do not patronise roadside operators. Most of them are touts.
“We have been complaining about their activities. We hope the government will intervene and rid the bureau de change business of touts.”