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Thieves adopt new tactic – Hypnotize victims, steal ATM cards, empty accounts

Hypnotism is a practice that dates back to centuries, but now very much rampant. And a lot of people have fallen victim of the ignoble practice. However, some believe the reason for the increasing rate of hypnotism and charming could be attributed to lack of employment among Nigerian youths which makes majority of them resort to either cyber crimes or other fraudulent practices.

A couple of weeks back, one Miss Sarah, a shop attendant at the popular Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, was said to have been hypnotized by some unknown guys, and in the process, she was dispossessed of her valuable items, including expensive mobile phones and ATM card.

Narrating the ordeal to ENCOMIUM Weekly, a witness who didn’t want her name mentioned said the victim was accosted by the hoodlums at Pen Cinema, Agege, on her way from Ikeja. They pretended to be looking for the address of an European church within that vicinity.

According to the narrator, soon as Sarah stopped to listen to them, she didn’t know when she handed over her bag and mobile phones to the fraudsters. And a few minutes later, she came back to her senses, but the guys had disappeared with her bang and other items.

“The girl cried profusely and got confused as she was left with nothing on her. But some good Samaritans helped her with transport money that took her home that day”, the source added.

Also, another young boy was said to have been hypnotized that same week somewhere in Oko Oba area of Agege, Lagos.

The hoodlums, we were told, were four. They also adopted similar approach, and in the process the boy followed them to an unknown location where they fraudulently collected his ATM card and withdrew about N100,000 in his account.

But luck ran against the notorious gang that same day. ENCOMIUM Weekly was told one of them was spotted by one Emeka who they had earlier duped. We learnt that Emeka dragged the guy to the nearby police station. And soon as they got to the station, the boy who was hypnotized was also there with his father, and he quickly identified the guy and raised the alarm. The criminal, we were told, had confessed to the crime and has since been charged to court.

A 17 year old boy also narrated how he was hypnotised around Fagba, Lagos. The boy left home in the afternoon because his master told him to go to the ATM to withdraw some money. On getting to the bank around 3pm, he withdrew the money and on his way out of the banking premises, a man stopped him pretending to ask for direction and later told him that he was in danger that some things would happen to him and his family. The man told the boy to bring his phone and he placed it on his stomach. Suddenly, the phone disappeared.

The boy was frightened that he took orders from that man. The man then told the boy to bring out all he had in his pocket and told him to start praying for forgiveness. The man asked for the pin number of the ATM card and the boy gave him, so the boy was asked to keep praying and not to leave that spot.

Meanwhile, the mother of the boy had started receiving alerts on her phone and she was worried. She called her son’s phone but it was switched off, that was when she knew something had gone wrong. But her neighbours told her to calm down that the boy would come home.

After about an hour, the boy who had been praying decided to borrow a phone from a man he buys CDs from to call his mom that he was being delivered spiritually that she shouldn’t worry about him.

When he called his mother, she tried to persuade him to tell her where he was but he said she wouldn’t come there. The boy’s mother and neigbours went in search of him. When they saw him, he didn’t want to go with them, saying the man promised to come back with his phone and mother’s ATM card. They had to force him to go home with them. When they got home, his mother showed him the alert she received, that was how he knew he was duped.

In another similar occurrence, a lady who works at Ogba, Lagos, was on her way home. At Ikeja, under the bridge, she stopped to buy fruits and somebody stepped on her but she didn’t know who it was because there were many people around her.

As she was discussing with the fruit vendor, a man touched her by the shoulder and she looked at him asking why did you touch me? He said, he was the one who mistakenly stepped on her and he wanted to say sorry. So, she nodded and said, no problem. Back to the fruit vendor she was discussing with, this man came back and said, he wanted to know her more, that she looked like someone he knew. The lady bought the fruits and was about to leave, but this man kept talking to her.

Then he said he was going to Agege. The lady told him, she wasn’t going his way, and she wanted to leave because it’s dark. It was around 8pm. The lady turned to leave and the man kept stalking her, then another man just surfaced, and pretended to be the friend of the guy, behaving like they saw themselves a long time ago.

Suddenly, the lady knew it was fake, she shouted at them and drew the attention of passersby not knowing that the fruit vendor kept watching and said to her ‘don’t answer people ,you don’t know. There are a lot of these people here, that’s how they charm people. Immediately, the two guys ran away.

On Sunday, October 11, 2015, ENCOMIUM Weekly sought the reaction of Lagos State Police Command’s spokesperson, DSP Joseph Offor on the issue, and he reacted.

“Yes, there are similar cases that have been reported, but hypnotism can’t be proved, it can only be alluded to. It can only become a crime when other ingredients such as stealing, false pretense, abduction and others are attracted to it.

“And if such a person is arrested, he will be charged with actual offence of stealing because there is nothing like hypnotism in our criminal code.

“If a case is basically on hypnotism, such a case will collapse unless the person involved has some other ingredients to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.”

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