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THE VERDICT: APC JUST LOST THE EKITI GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION

12 Jul

 

Politics is a game for the wise and the foolish, but who eventually wins is the one with the smarts. For months now, the intrigues of parties participating in the Ekiti gubernatorial election have dominated the nation’s news cycle. It’s normal because the election is happening at a time no other election is scheduled. It’s come down to Governor Ayodele Fayose putting forward his deputy, Professor Kolapo Olusola for the position and strongly standing by him, while the APC and the federal forces have lined up behind Kayode Fayemi, a former governor, who lost all 16 Local Governments of the state to Fayose in 2014. In the intervening period, Fayose has been a torn in the flesh of the federal forces and a sort of battering ram for the PDP that lost the presidency.
Up to this point, the race has been too close to call. Fayemi has attempted to present himself as a new man. When he picked up his party’s ticket, he apologized to the Ekiti people for his mistakes in the past because he was seen as aloof and arrogant, something unforgivable in politics. Yet, in his march towards taking the ticket, he exhibited all the characteristics of a bully, all the arrogance and pomposity of someone who thinks stolen money and federal power will win it for him. He used these blatantly at the party primary and now, at the real election level, they’ve wheeled in all the instruments of violence, force and coercion into Ekiti. However, possibly unknown to them is the fact that the militarization of the state before the election is a signal that Fayemi’s party is desperate. Fayose has taken to playing the politics of the underdog punching above his weight and despite his many faults, he’s kept a tight ship and a consistent message, which is that the federal forces are presenting Fayemi as the Trojan Horse to conquer Ekiti state.
Then, Buhari and the APC bigwigs came calling. And now what have we got? The federal forces trying to humiliate a sitting governor by using force against him! He wants to do a rally and the police are saying they would have none of it. There is no law stopping the PDP from doing any rally today when the election is still Saturday, but they would not allow him. They barricaded Fayose and his supporters inside Ekiti Government House. Whether on the street or inside Government House, teargas was used. The earlier pictures on social media are showing Fayose sitting on the ground suffering effect of tear gas, surrounded by some seemingly frantic others. Some of his opponents are all guffawing at what they consider to be some amateurish drama. How is it that only Fayose amongst those standing with him and captured on camera is suffering this dramatic effect of tear gas? How is it he’s the only one being reported to have been taken to hospital?Image result for ekiti election
Okay, I have made inquiries with people on the ground in Ekiti and they are all saying it really happened and that Fayose was not the only one affected by the tear gas, but that he was the one people not affected ran to when it happened and all that. Some sent me other pictures of people they said were affected and all. But in all honesty, I was not about to determine the validity of all these since they were all still shots and not videos, but now videos are circulating showing it’s worse than we thought. At any rate, whatever anyone thinks, the only unquestioned part of the whole story, even from known APC supporters I spoke to is that there was in fact teargasing. Indeed, the case of the APC supporters who claim to be on the ground is that it was not such a heavy teargasing that could have affected Fayose the way he’s making out. Amidst guffaws, one of the fellows told me Fayose was rehearsing for his post-governorship career in Nollywood.
But, they miss the point. Whether Fayose is acting up or not is not the issue. The issue is that the federal forces ostensibly put on the ground to ensure a secure, free and fair election have showed their hands and it is not a good show. There was no reason to barricade the Government House; there was no reason to be lured into a Fayose trap, if indeed it was a trap. There was no reason to dispense teargas anywhere around there or near anywhere the governor was! It’s never happened in the history of our country! Whenever high-handedness had been applied against a governor who disagrees with Abuja, they’ve used the mechanism of the law, even when totally mangled to effect their aim; it’s never come to physical force against the governor or around him. A governor is not a slave of the president or federal forces. He is the executive head of a federating unit of the federation with all powers therein. There is a reason the Constitution grants the governor immunity; he’s protected by our laws against anything like this. This should not happen to him or around him, especially when perpetrators can be proved to be persons or security officials acting at the behest of Abuja.
Now, does anyone at the federal level fighting this Ekiti election on behalf of Fayemi think this will win them any vote? Do they think any genuine Ekiti person seeing their governor and their state humiliated like this would be clapping and hailing them for a job well done? Well, except for those who’ve taken partisanship beyond common sense, I do not see many supporting them. They have just lost this election because no matter how they frame this, it is out there that the Buhari presidency is treating Ekiti like a conquered territory and as far as people still have their PVCs, they will fight back. Why, because the national political atmosphere does not favour the APC amidst the hardship and all the killings going on in the nation under their watch and with the president unable to hide his bias for the killers. Whatever anyone thinks of Fayose, majority of the Ekiti people see him as their protector against the rampaging herdsmen via his anti-open grazing law and his proactive actions against elements who want to flout it. The last thing you would expect is for people accused of being thieves to be found with the blood of the stolen meat dripping from their mouths. APC just nailed it’s own coffin. What we see here is enough to send them back to the wilderness in Ekiti. And no, it may not be because they ordered it or want it; it would be because they allowed themselves to come out on the wrong side of the optics.
Image result for ekiti election
Yes, optics matter in politics and they’ve just given Fayose the opportunity to not only create it, but to also define the immediate post-election narrative on his terms, while putting the APC off their game. That’s a huge unforced error, a terrible giveaway by APC! For instance, whether in support or against, this would be the talk in Ekiti before the election. Not every voter is on social media or savvy enough to look at things beyond what they are told. Most would buy the more dramatic versions and spread them far and near. What most rural voters would be hearing is that Buhari attempted to kill their governor when he sent in his goons to attack him and bomb him at Government House. They will hear that their governor escaped an assassination attempt and is now in hospital. Meanwhile, I’m hearing there are processions going to the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti palace to protest this. In the midst of this drama, the APC message will never be heard. They will not add one single vote to their tally, but the PDP might be winning the sympathy vote and some via the propagandization of this matter. In a close election, these little margins matter.
In my view, the APC has scored an own goal and the referee is waiting to blow the final whistle after this tight game where no one had seemed capable of making any headway. For Ekiti people, this is no longer about Fayemi; it’s about sending a message to Buhari and his goons that they are not a conquered people. No matter the machinations of the APC, including any attempt at rigging, this is already a lost cause. I, Kennedy Emetulu, a Nigerian, have called the election for the governorship of Ekiti State for the PDP candidate, Professor Kolapo Olusola. You heard it here first. Thank me later.
NB: There’s a caveat. There are things I know APC can do right now to turn this around or limit the damage significantly, but, unfortunately for them, I do not support the APC in this election, even though I’m not exactly a PDP supporter as well. So, no, I wont give the suggestion here for free. They should go and think and try to save their hide (I’m guessing anything they think up on their own will be tantamount to them digging themselves deeper). As things are, this election has been won and lost already.
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BABA-AHMED RESIGNS FROM #APC

9 Jul

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BABA-AHMED RESIGNS FROM #APC
 
A key stakeholder and #APCformerChairman in Kaduna, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed Bello has resigned his membership of the All Progressives Congress. Below is his media statement.
 
MEDIA STATEMENT OF DR HAKEEM BABA-AHMED RESIGNATION FROM THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC).
 
This Statement is to inform the public of my resignation from the All Progressive’s Congress (APC). I have sent a formal letter to this effect to Chairman of my Ward.
This has been a very difficult decision, to leave a party I helped form and made my humble contributions to put in power. After three years, however, I need to say that the APC has grossly underperformed, and has forfeited any claim to my loyalty and continued membership. I do not believe, in all conscience, that it should be trusted and encouraged to continue to govern our great country beyond 2019.
I am not leaving to join another party. This is my decision, and mine alone. It has nothing to do with the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Sarki. It is a decision taken after due consultations with the Akida Group, a group that has predated my appointment as Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate.
I will remain active in politics, as this is the main avenue for salvaging our nation from rising insecurity, poverty, and bitter divisions.
I am grateful for the opportunities I had to chair CPC and APC in Kaduna State, and I wish all our leaders God’s guidance.
Thank you
 
Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, OON

Group moves against mother who burned daughter with electric iron for stealing N200

7 Jul

Comfort, as she was on Thursday 
_________________________________

By Itoro BASSEY

A middle-aged woman, Aniedi Etim Akpan, is now talking to members of the Norms Restoration Movement, a group against child abuse, after inflicting serious injuries on her 10-year old daughter, Comfort Usen Okon, for stealing N200, the sum which is less than a dollar.

President of the group, Mr. David John, told Propeller Newspaper, Friday, that investigation had begun into the case, noting that Aniedi’s action was against the rule of law.

John vowed that his organization would do “everything humanly possible” to sanction those responsible for the “ugly and heart touching act”.

Propeller Newspaper gathered on Thursday that Aniedi, an indigene of Ibiaku Itam in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom State, had plugged an electric iron and pressed the hot surface on Comfort’s body, injuring her on the right leg and face.

The incident was said to have happened immediately after the woman discovered that her money was missing early on Thursday morning.

Aniedi, it was also gathered, left for the Itam market for her trading business after committing the act, leaving the hapless girl to suffer the pains she inflicted on her.

It was the girl’s stepfather who took her to a nearby pharmacy along Calabar/Itu Road for treatment, the place where this reporter met her on the day of the incident.

“She beat me, stripped me naked and dragged me on the floor. The flat stick she uses to cut vegetables was the object she use to hit me on my face and I got injured by my right eye, Comfort said.

“She later plugged the electric iron and pressed it on my face and leg; she did this like four times”, she added.

When this reporter visited the house where Comfort lives with her mother, her step father, whose name could not be ascertained at press time, and a woman who said she was the little girl’s elder sister, said that the missing money was stolen by her, and that she deserved the “punishment”.

The victim, a Primary 5 pupil of RCM Group School, near Itam Itam Police Divisional Headquarters, was still dressed in her school uniform and had not taken breakfast as at 11.30 am on Thursday.

It was this reporter who bought a loaf of bread and a bottle Coca-Cola so that she could eat something before being administered with what the pharmacy attendant called “inflammatory injection” to stop the pain.

Although Comfort denied stealing her mother’s money, she told Propeller Newspaper that anytime money gets missing from her step father’s pocket or in the house, the theft would be attributed to her.

Comfort has an elder sister who is not of the same father as her. Other children who live in the compound had either gone to the market or school at the time this reporter visited.

Shortly after the minor treatment, Comfort willingly led this reporter to her biological father, Usen Okon Etukudoh, a bricklayer who lives just close to where his daughter lives with her mother.

As soon as the girl and this reporter approached her father’s compound at Ikot Ekang Item, very close to Ibiaku Itam, she stopped and pointed out Usen in the group of people who were there.

Usen was visibly angry with seeing injuries on the girl’s face. He said that his daughter had opted to stay with her mother after their separation some years back, but that he would stab his former “wife” with pieces of a broken bottle if anything happens to his daughter.

“Comfort is Aniedi’s second daughter, and the only child she has for me. We were never married. I used to live in her father’s compound as a tenant when her pregnancy occurred ten years ago.

“I have four children now with my current wife. If she comes to live with me, then they will be five altogether. I didn’t ask her to leave my house, she was the one who opted to stay with her mother.

“Whatever wrongdoing that caused her to be treated that way was what she learned from her mother’s house. I have previously warned the woman about this type of maltreatment, I will personally stab her with a broken bottle if something dangerous happens to my child”, Usen said in vernacular.

No one was found at home when this reporter, together with Mr. John of Norms Restoration Movement, visited both houses of Comfort’s parents on Friday morning at exactly 8.45 am. The girl was said to have gone to school at the time.

When the team arrived RCM Group School where neighbours said Comfort would be found, a picture of her taken with a smart mobile phone with the injuries covered with sticking plaster was shown to the headteacher for identification.

After identifying the child, the headteacher led the team to the school’s Primary 5 classroom, but Comfort was absent. It was a promotional examination period. Her classmates said she was also absent on Thursday.

The headteacher, who expressed sadness over Comfort’s condition, said it was not the first time he had noticed injuries and burns on her body.

He said his effort to look into the matter in the past had been unsuccessful because it was only her mother who usually brought her to school.

A request was further made to trace Comforts mother, Aniedi, and the school’s headteacher accepted and released a teacher and Comfort’s friend, the duo who led the team to where her mother trades in the Itam market.

When finally found in one of the shades at the market, Aniedi, after she was shown pictures of Comfort with injuries and plaster on her face, admitted that the girl is her daughter. She appeared unperturbed about the girl’s condition.

The woman who trades in the local gin known as ‘ogogoro’, mixed with herbs, told this reporter that her daughter had been stealing her money several times and that she had to teach her a lesson she would never forget.

Both Aniedi and Usen were served letters of invitation to appear at the Uyo office of Norms Restoration Movement for further findings.

It was observed late on Friday evening that the woman who earlier identified herself as Aniedi’s elder sister also sells ogogoro at the Ikot Ekwere-Itam junction, just by the Motorcycle Park.

one of her customers, unconscious of this reporter’s mission at her marketplace, alleged that Comfort might have been sexually abused in her mother’s compound.

APC : THE PARABLE OF DEFECTION AND SURVIVAL

5 Jul

APC THE PARABLE OF DEFECTION AND SURVIVAL

Prophecy fulfiled : Attention Otuekong Franklyn Isong

By Osondu Ahirika

The Ibibios have an adage that says, ewa ase kene owo akpon idip, koro mi toro’ke toro, aya kok. Translated, it means, a dog following a man with bulging stomach is full of expectation, for he will either stool or vomit for the dog to lap up. That describes the paradox of defection from one party to another in Nigeria.

A few years back, the PDP enjoyed the boom of defections when the going was good. In the current trend, she suffers a reversal of that fate.
I read a piece, titled, ‘Before PDP Dies in Akwa Ibom’, written by my brother and friend, Franklyn Isong and I had a good laugh. I laughed, because, the adage above instructs me more on what is really going on.
I credit the spur to write this piece to Franklyn Isong. In no distant time, I want his thesis to be pitted against my antithesis, and let tomorrow judge who is right.

Before proceeding, let me share, as I am always wont to do, a short but true story.
In a certain hamlet where families lived in clusters with almost everyone knowing each other, there lived a couple who were of great service to all.

The couple ran a private clinic which was the only medical facility in the area, to which, every ailing resident went for treatment and cure.
The husband of the doctor, let’s call her Johny, was a classic irony to behold. She was skinny, sickly, without appetite and so gaunt looking.
Worst still, she was so lean that, her scrawny, skeletal frame gave her away, in the judgment of all, as a woman who will die, perhaps, the next second, a minute later or the coming hour.

On the flipside, her hubby was a juxtaposing contrast to her famished frame. He was full of life, vigorous in speech, burly and well endowed, even as his shapely figure resonated such machoist energy that disguised his age.
He was a dutiful and loving husband, and served with his wife as the auxiliary caregiver in the clinic.

Whenever his wife was off to the General Hospital in town, or out for any reason, he was responsible to hang a notice on the main entry door to the clinic, which read: DOCTOR, GONE OUT, BACK SOON. Any patient who approached the clinic and saw the sign understood the meaning, without further inquiry. They usually go back to return later when the notice is off.

That is however, not the issue. Soon, the Doctor who was saving lives got very sick. Her husband worked round the clock to support and assist her. He was her hands, legs and all. She was so weak, the whole city mourned and were only counting days she lived on as a bonus of grace. But, as sometimes happens, the husband who was full of vibes and blossom slumped and died.

On that eventful day, the clinic was not open and the ubiquitous signpost on the door wasn’t there either.
Some curious clients made it to the residence and met a dejected and broken Dr Jenny staring into space.
Without waiting to be asked what was amiss, she said to the stunned visitors with all the power she could exert, ”He is Gone, He wont be back Soon!”

Folks’, that story is my approximation of the fate of PDP and the rival APC.
The APC in this case is the husband and the PDP, Dr Johny. Like our elders once said, you may be expecting the dry leaf to fall only for the green leaf to do so.
I am of the conviction that, going forward, the All Progressives Congress may wither and wilt, while the seemingly dying Peoples Democratic Party, like the proverbial phoenix, may reinvent herself.

I am not persuaded by the one-way traffic of defections to the APC, to believe, or conclude, the party is healthy and thriving. Like speed, obesity kills. And believe me if you will, the APC is more than obese.

Let me attempt a forecast of tomorrow for I see the writing on the wall. Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC is still nursing deep seated wounds that have been remorselessly inflicted on him, by disparate and contending forces that were annexed into the APC at formation. He will reassert himself come 2019. Already, he has hinted that, he will run for the Presidency if the conditions are right.

As I can see, President Muhammadu Buhari who was the binding figure that stitched the party together is out of the picture. In a few months, the mother of all battles for the soul of the APC will blow open. When this happens, we will see who stays and what happens with the APC.
Don’t forget, nobody can rein in the ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to become President of Nigeria. Others like former Kano governor Musa Kwakwanso, current Kaduna governor, Nasiru El’Rufai, Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the far Northern flank of the APC will spoil for a showdown if the Afenifere South West bloc of the party dare to put forward a candidate come 2019.
Even the South Eastern caucus of the APC have begun to find their voice to be given a chance in the party. The battle for the parties ticket will be messy and implosive. You can bank on that, believe me. The casualties will lead a major revolt of realignment of forces and APC will disperse from the centre.
Once this happens, new parties will break out of its womb.

Is that good news for the PDP? I don’t think so. The PDP on the other hand must reinvent her narrative and show a new identity. There will be an exodus from the APC and PDP as presently constituted, which will morph into a third force. Then, the three parties will go head-to-head. That is what I see tomorrow. Where that leads, I can’t tell.

Howbeit, the defections from party A to party B is healthy for our democracy.
I had a long discourse with former Commissioner Pastor Ita Udo on the issue and I could not agree more with his thesis.
Those who defect are doing so to seek greener pastures. In the process, some of them have bagged Federal appointments from the APC led federal Government, which was not the case before. If they didn’t defect, Akwa Ibom for instance wouldn’t have all those plum jobs come the way of their illustrious sons.
Ultimately, it is good for all birds to fly as the sky is wide enough for each to find its altitude.The one that says the other shouldn’t fly should have its wings broken an igbo adage says.

Folks, live and let live. That’s what I say to both APC and PDP. Let the defections continue, what goes up, must surely come down.
In his book Arrow of God, Professor Chinua Achebe(peace on his ashes) told us of the scheme of Ezeulu, the embattled Priest of Ulu to his son, Oduche, when faced with the threat of the whiteman’s religion. Hear Ezeulu,
“‘The world is changing,’ he had told him. ‘I do not like it. But I am like the bird eneke-nti-oba. When his friends asked him why he was always on the wing he replied: “Men of today have learnt to shoot without missing and so I have learnt to fly without perching.” I want one of my sons to join these people and be my eye there.

If there is nothing in it you will come back . But if there is something there you will bring home my share.
The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place. My spirit tells me that those who do not befriend the white man today will be saying had we known tomorrow.”
Folks, that is the philosophy of defection. Those going to APC today, do so because the APC is like the whiteman who must be befriended to avoid regret tomorrow. Just that, if in the end, nothing comes out of it as ‘My share’, they will find their way back to wherever their belly directs.
(this piece was first published in July 15, 2016)

Akwa Ibom: Former Gov Akpabio spends billions on #WhiteElephant projects, while its education system rots away.

2 Jul

, Premium Times

Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ Mapio.netRelated NewsGov. Emmanuel presents N651.5 billion budget to Akwa Ibom Assembly Poverty killing Akwa Ibom residents, supporter tells Akpabio. How corruption and poor governance are killing Nigeria, By Godswill AkpabioAkwa Ibom people not free under Gov. Emmanuel — Ex-MinisterEx-Akwa Ibom deputy governor defies Akpabio, picks PDP Guber formIn 2008, the Akwa Ibom State government embarked on the construction of a multi-billion naira massive leisure and business complex, with the hope of turning the oil-rich Nigerian state into ‘Dubai’.The complex, named Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, sits atop 168 hectres of land in Uyo, the state capital.It has a 14-floor storey building, the tallest in the state, meant for a 258-room five-star hotel, a Cineplex (six cinema halls), shopping mall, 5,000-seat convention centre, and a theme park, comprising wet and dry parks.“My vision is to produce a small Dubai within the Niger Delta (region of Nigeria),” the then governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, who initiated the project, said in early 2012.By then the cinema was already open to the public, while the other components of the ambitious project were still under construction.“I have given them Dubai standard Cineplex,” Mr. Akpabio had boasted in a government-sponsored TV programme aired on Africa Independent Television (AIT). “So, you walk in there to watch films and you think you are sitting down in Dubai.”The complex was scheduled to open for business by the end of 2012.But 10 years after take-off, and three years after Mr. Akpabio left office, the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, remains unfinished, despite the huge money sunk into it; except for the Cineplex and the bar close to it, the rest of the complex has been abandoned. The tall building and the area meant for the theme park look desolate.A popular retail business, Shoprite, in August 2015, laid a foundation stone for the building of its mall at the Tropicana. After a long lull, Shoprite just started work on its proposed mall in June 2018, PREMIUM TIMES learned.The Akpabio administration had said its construction would cost the state N33 billion, but three people familiar with the project said the cost was later reviewed upward to N120 billion.Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo credit_Skyscrapercity.com ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Aerial-view-of-Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-_Photo-credit_Skyscrapercity.com_-1.jpg?fit=349%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Aerial-view-of-Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-_Photo-credit_Skyscrapercity.com_-1.jpg?fit=604%2C604&ssl=1″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Aerial-view-of-Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-_Photo-credit_Skyscrapercity.com_-1.jpg?w=600&h=600&crop=1&ssl=1″ width=”600″ height=”600″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”600″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo credit_Skyscrapercity.com” alt=”Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo credit_Skyscrapercity.com” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 600px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>But while the government shelled out such humongous amounts on white elephant projects, it left its schools decrepit.Hundreds of schools – primary and secondary – received little attention, a year-long investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed.In some terrible situations, pupils and students sit on bare floor to learn in roofless classrooms.Kids between the ages of three and four have been found sleeping on bare floor, in at least two schools in the state.The science colleges in the state are in ruin too. Same with the technical colleges. In one particular case, a top multi-billion naira technical college in the state have been closed down, strangely, and left for several years to rot away.Poorly-motivated teachers in the state, who sometimes go for several months without salary, are known to have resorted to corrupt practices, including collecting money to allow students cheat in examinations.Meanwhile, government officials and elites in the state send their kids to world-class private schools owned by one of them.The current administration of Governor Emmanuel, just like his predecessor, is yet to tell the Akwa Ibom people how much has been spent so far on the Tropicana project.The Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Akan Okon, whose ministry supervises the Tropicana, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his phone line by this reporter.Mr Okon served for one year between May 2014 and May 2015, as commissioner for finance in the Akpabio administration. He continued briefly as finance commissioner under Governor Emmanuel before he was posted to the ministry of housing and special duties.The former governor, Mr Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, declined PREMIUM TIMES’ request for interview.Silverbird Showtime Ltd, a company owned by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from Bayelsa State, Ben Murray-Bruce, was awarded contract for the construction of the Tropicana. (This was before Mr Murray-Bruce was elected senator in 2015).Mr Murray-Bruce said during the flag-off of the construction in 2008 that the Tropicana would create up to 5,000 jobs in Akwa Ibom State when completed.For now, only about 45 persons, including casual workers, are employed at the Cineplex and the bar, which is far less than the 5,000 envisaged, a top-level administrative worker at the Cineplex told PREMIUM TIMES.Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/THETHE1.jpg?fit=473%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/THETHE1.jpg?fit=604%2C445&ssl=1″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/THETHE1.jpg?w=600&h=442&crop&ssl=1″ width=”600″ height=”442″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”442″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate” alt=”Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 442px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>An average worker in the two sections earns about N25, 000 ($69) as monthly salary, this newspaper learnt.Both the cinema and the bar are also run by Mr Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird.The company has not made returns to the Akwa Ibom State government since the Cineplex was open for business in 2011, according to sources within the Akwa Ibom government.The top-level worker at the Tropicana said lack of formal agreement between the government and Silverbird is the reason the latter has not been making returns.“Silverbird isn’t paying anything to government yet until there is a formal contract,” says the worker who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.The worker said Silverbird wants to “recoup millions of naira” they claimed they spent on fixing lightings in the Cineplex.He said Silverbird has been spending money to maintain the facility, as well as buy diesel to power it (the Tropicana was not connected to electrical grid, until May 2018).In addition, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the state government would not want Silverbird to run the cinema in a businesslike manner, so as not to hurt the locals who may not have the money to pay for the services.Akwa Ibom, rich in oil and gas deposits, is among Nigeria’s richest states. But poverty and unemployment levels in the state are amongst the highest in Nigeria, largely due to corruption and mismanagement of public funds.The state occupies the second position among the states with the highest unemployment rate in Nigeria, according to 2018 data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).It is a low-income economy, where most working class people earn moderate salary working as government employees.At Silverbird cinemas in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and in Lagos and Abuja, moviegoers pay about N2, 000 for a single movie on weekdays, and N2, 500 on weekends.But at the Tropicana, Uyo, ticket is sold at N1,500 for foreign movies and N1,000 for Nollywood movies.Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo credit_Skycrapercity.com ” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Front-view-of-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo_-Photo-credit_Skycrapercity.com_-1.jpg?fit=524%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Front-view-of-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo_-Photo-credit_Skycrapercity.com_-1.jpg?fit=604%2C402&ssl=1″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Front-view-of-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo_-Photo-credit_Skycrapercity.com_-1.jpg?w=600&h=400&crop&ssl=1″ width=”600″ height=”400″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”400″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo credit_Skycrapercity.com” alt=”Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo credit_Skycrapercity.com” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 400px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>In the past, a movie ticket was sold for as low as N250 and N500 at the Tropicana.With billions of naira coming into the state coffers as oil derivation fund from the nation’s Federation Account every month, it seems, clearly, that Akwa Ibom’s development challenge, unlike most other Nigerian states, is not really about paucity of fund, but how to judiciously spend the much they have.In five years alone, between 2013 and 2017, the state received N1.029 trillion (about $2.8 billion) from the country’s Federation Account.This is beside the revenue it generates internally.Comparatively, a state like Osun, South-West of Nigeria, receives less than one-tenth of what Akwa Ibom gets from the Federation Account.While construction work was going on at the 258-room five-star hotel at the Tropicana, the state government was also building a 144-room four-star hotel at the nearby city of Ikot Ekpene which is about 20-minute drive from Uyo.Besides these two, Akwa Ibom already has its premier 163-room five-star hotel, Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, at Uruan which is about five-minute drive from Uyo.A Turkish company, Ronesans Holdings, handled the construction contract for the four-star hotel in Ikot Ekpene whose value government insiders put at about N50 billion.Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Photo-showing-the-five-star-hotel-section-of-the-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_.jpg?fit=262%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Photo-showing-the-five-star-hotel-section-of-the-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_.jpg?fit=604%2C805&ssl=1″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Photo-showing-the-five-star-hotel-section-of-the-Ibom-Tropicana-Entertainment-Centre-Uyo-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_.jpg?w=600&h=800&crop&ssl=1″ width=”600″ height=”800″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”800″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net” alt=”Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 800px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>The then governor, Mr Akpabio, said in January 2015 during an interview with AIT that he was “struggling to make sure” both hotels were finished and ready to host visitors expected in the state then for a friendly football match between Nigeria and Brazil.The friendly, which was to take place on March 29, 2015 at the 30,000-seat stadium built newly then by the Akpabio administration, was later called off by Brazil.“Akwa Ibom can’t afford to put additional money in Tropicana”Governor Emmanuel is frustrated with the “mega” projects initiated by his predecessor, Mr Akpabio.In a leaked audio clip of Mr Emmanuel’s meeting with some leaders in the state, the governor is heard explaining his frustration and what he intends to do with the Tropicana in Uyo and the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, in Ikot Ekpene.The meeting most likely took place at the Government House, Uyo, but the date is, however, unknown.“We are in recession, we can’t manage Tropicana,” the governor said, in the audio.“I am going to lease out that place, people will run it, they will give me money and I will use that money to do something. Whenever they run it and take their money, we take back our asset in the future.”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-1.jpg?fit=465%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-1.jpg?fit=604%2C453&ssl=1″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-1.jpg?w=399&h=299&crop&ssl=1″ width=”399″ height=”299″ data-original-width=”399″ data-original-height=”299″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State” alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 299px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 399px;”>Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-3-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_-1.jpg?fit=465%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-3-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_-1.jpg?fit=604%2C453&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-3-_-Photo-credit_-Mapio.net_-1.jpg?w=197&h=147&crop&ssl=1″ width=”197″ height=”147″ data-original-width=”197″ data-original-height=”147″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net” alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ Mapio.net” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 147px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 197px;”>Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2 ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-2-1.jpg?fit=465%2C349&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-2-1.jpg?fit=604%2C453&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Four-Points-by-Sheraton-Hotel-Ikot-Ekpene-Akwa-Ibom-State-2-1.jpg?w=197&h=148&crop&ssl=1″ width=”197″ height=”148″ data-original-width=”197″ data-original-height=”148″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2″ alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2″ style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 148px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 197px;”>The governor said an incredible amount of money is needed to complete the Tropicana. “I can’t afford it,” he says.He says of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, “That building is not yet a hotel!”Continuing, he says: “I can’t help it; we must still put in more money. I have heard a lot of people make noise that the governor has refused to open the hotel. Sorry, building is different from hotel. I need $7.2 million to turn that building into a hotel. As at today, I have paid a deposit of $4 million. It is remaining $3.2 million.”Governor Emmanuel also talked about the premier five-star hotel in the state, Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, which he said has not been making returns to the state government.“Unfortunately, Le Meridien has not been audited in the past 10 years, and they don’t render account to the government. I have just discovered they don’t give even one naira to the government from all the money that is made in the hotel.“At the same time they didn’t even remit their technical management fees to their home office, so they want me to come and pay those technical fees for 10 years.“But in order to keep them, so they won’t leave, I just remitted $900,000 to them, so that they can stay for us to audit them,” Mr Emmanuel said.The governor said he eventually insisted that Marriot, the managers of the hotel, must leave.It’s not clear, however, if the state government claimed any money from Marriot.Interestingly, building of white elephant projects in Akwa Ibom has become a relay race where one leader hands over the baton to another; Mr Emmanuel, taking off from where his predecessor stopped, is currently building a second Akwa Ibom governor’s lodge in Lagos, and an international worship centre in Uyo, despite huge opposition from the people.The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/The-design-of-the-International-Worship-Centre-Akwa-Ibom-State.jpg?fit=526%2C296&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/The-design-of-the-International-Worship-Centre-Akwa-Ibom-State.jpg?fit=604%2C340&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/The-design-of-the-International-Worship-Centre-Akwa-Ibom-State.jpg?w=600&h=338&crop&ssl=1″ width=”600″ height=”338″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”338″ itemprop=”http://schema.org/image” title=”The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State” alt=”The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 338px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>Mr Emmanuel’s administration is also constructing a 21-storey office building project in Uyo. The cost of the project has not been made public by the government.Some people in Uyo who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said the administration is “strategically” preparing office accommodation for Mobil Producing Nigeria, in order to put pressure on the oil company to relocate from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State where it is drilling oil.PREMIUM TIMES could not verify the information, as government officials in Uyo declined comment on the matter.Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos-based lawyer from Akwa Ibom, travelled to the state to lead a street protest in March 2017 against the building of the new Akwa Ibom governor’s lodge in Lagos.“Mr Governor, you took an oath of office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. You did not take an oath of office as the governor of Lagos State,” Mr Effiong said to the crowd.“You took an oath of office to protect Akwa Ibom people, not Lagos State. Mr Governor, you do not need another lodge in Lagos!” he said.In the tension that ensued, several government officials were dissing out conflicting figures as the project cost. One senior government official said then that N10 billion was budgeted for the new lodge, while another said it was “less than N10 billion”.In responding to the criticism, Mr Emmanuel said the government was going to spend a “paltry” N1.6 billion for the new lodge which he said is meant to host people who would want to invest in Akwa Ibom. The old lodge in Lagos is dilapidated, he claimed.“Will Akwa Ibom people feel proud for me to host so many consular-generals, investors in those kinds of dilapidated buildings?” Mr Emmanuel said.Akwa Ibom State also has a governor’s lodge, said to be one of the most sophisticated, in the nation’s capital, Abuja.“Lagos State is a commercial capital of Nigeria, no doubt. But it is not the only entry point into Nigeria. It is also not a mandatory stop-over for potential investors, especially the ones who are interested in investing in Akwa Ibom State,” said Uyo-based lawyer, Imo Akpan, who was among those who protested against the building of the new lodge in Lagos.“The best place to receive an Akwa Ibom bound investor is Akwa Ibom. This is where to exhibit our rich cultural background; this is where to showcase our potentials; this is where to discuss and negotiate hands-on the deals that will move this state forward.“If you have investors who are attracted to the Lagos skyline, chances are that they will not invest in Akwa Ibom.“But if you have serious-minded entities that are committed to genuine business and must be hosted in Lagos, the best place will be to welcome them into the existing state government-owned Liaison offices in Lagos,” says Mr Akpan.How Funds Sunk Into Tropicana, Other Projects Would Have Helped EducationN120 billion Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, UyoIbom Tropicana Entertaiment Centre, Uyo _Photo credit_ Ubong Ephraim ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Ibom-Tropicana-Entertaiment-Centre-Uyo-_Photo-credit_-Ubong-Ephraim.jpg?fit=526%2C296&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Ibom-Tropicana-Entertaiment-Centre-Uyo-_Photo-credit_-Ubong-Ephraim.jpg?fit=604%2C340&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/media.premiumtimesng.com/wp-content/files/2018/07/Ibom-Tropicana-Entertaiment-Centre-Uyo-_Photo-credit_-Ubong-Ephraim.jpg” style=”max-width:100%;” />

MD Anderson Fined $4.3 Million For HIPAA Violations

23 Jun

Related image

#MDAnderson

An administrative law judge has ruled that MD Anderson Cancer Center must pay $4.3 million to the HHS Office of Civil Rights due to multiple HIPAA violations. This is the fourth largest penalty ever awarded to OCR.

OCR kicked off an investigation of MD Anderson in the wake of three separate data breach reports in 2012 and 2013. One of the breaches sprung from the theft of an unencrypted laptop from the home of an MD Anderson employee. The other two involved the loss of unencrypted USB thumb drives which held protected health information on over 33,500 patients.

Maybe — just maybe — MD Anderson could’ve gotten away with this or paid a much smaller fine. But given the circumstances, it was not going to get away that easily.

OCR found that while the organization had written encryption policies going back to 2006, it wasn’t following them that closely. What’s more, MD Anderson’s own risk analyses had found that a lack of device-level encryption could threaten the security of ePHI.

Adding insult to injury, MD Anderson didn’t begin to adopt enterprise-wide security technology until 2011. Also, it didn’t take action to encrypt data on its devices containing ePHI during the period between March 2011 and January 2013.

In defending itself, the organization argued that it was not obligated to encrypt data on its devices. It also claimed that the ePHI which was breached was for research, which meant that it was not subject to HIPAA penalties. In addition, its attorneys argued that the penalties accrued to OCR were unreasonable.

The administrative law judge wasn’t buying it. In fact, the judge took an axe to its arguments, saying that MD Anderson’s “dilatory conduct is shocking given the high risk to its patients resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of ePHI,” noting that its leaders “not only recognized, but [also] restated many times.” That’s strong language, the like of which I’ve never seen in HIPAA cases before.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the administrative law judge agreed to OCR’s sanctions, which included penalties for each day of MD Anderson’s lack of HIPAA compliance and for each record of individuals breached.

All I can say is wow. Could the Cancer Center’s leaders possibly have more chutzpah? It’s bad enough to have patient data breached three times. Defending yourself by essentially saying it was no big deal is even worse. If I were the judge I would’ve thrown the book at them too.

Beware of the mystery shopper scam

22 Jun

#GFK #Secret #Shopper

The mystery shopper scam has been stealing money from unsuspecting victims for years.

It begins when you answer an advertisement or an email to become a “mystery shopper” —  someone hired by a company to shop at a certain store and then report on the experience for quality control purposes

Secret shopper 1

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The tipoff that these solicitations are scams can be immediate and obvious. Consider this copy of an email for a mystery shopper scam that I recently received, with its glaring grammatical errors and missing words:

“Hello, We are a company engaged in the mystery shopper field.
We need a team filled some people with age, residence location, experience and other different.

“Description;

“You will be assigned to visit the shop, store, bank, etc
You have to pretend to be normal potential customers who’re looking for a specific product/service
You will then complete questionnaires online to share with us your customer’s experience
Get $350/assignment, at least 2 assignments/week will be assigned.

“Requirements;

“18 years old or above
Can read and write English
Can speak the local language well”

And the registration part,

“Registration;

“If you are interested reply this email fill out the information below to get started:”

. . . Which asks for name, address, etc., . . .

“So we can look at your distance from the locations which you have to put your service, and your address would also be the need for your payments.”

The bottom of the email identified a copyright date of 2005-2017 for the “Agent Center for Mystery or secret Shoppers.”

One reason this type of scam works so well is that there are real mystery shopper jobs. But keep in mind that so many people are interested in this work that the real mystery shopper companies have no need to advertise to hire people. So, they do not send out unsolicited emails such as the one above.

Once a victim takes the bait, they are sent what may appear to be a certified check. The victim is instructed to deposit it into his or her bank account and use the money to make the assigned purchases.  The check is for more than the amount the mystery shopper is instructed to spend.

The victim is told to keep a specified amount as payment and wire back the remaining funds.  It is only after the money has been wired from the victim’s own bank account that the victim learns that the check was counterfeit and has bounced. Of course, the funds wired from the victim’s bank account to the scammer are gone forever without any effective recourse.

This problem is made worse because banks give provisional credit to deposited checks after a few days so it could appear at first glance that the check has cleared and the funds are fully available.   But provisional credit can be rescinded once a check bounces.   It can take weeks for a check to fully clear and the funds actually be transferred into the account of the person receiving the check.

Many victims of the mystery shopper scam have thought they were prudent because they waited a few days to confirm (or so they thought) that the check was legitimate. Only later do they find out they only had received provisional credit for a check that was in the end no good.

The sending of a check for more than is actually owed and requesting the remainder be wired back is the basis of many scams. These include the sale of products in response to online advertisements placed by legitimate sellers who are scammed into sending their own money to scammers pretending to purchase their items for sale.

Another variation of the mystery shopper scam involves thieves that solicit payments for information about becoming a mystery shopper or offering a certification program or registration program for which you have to pay.

MSPA Americas, which was formerly known as the Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America, is a trade organization made up of legitimate mystery shopping companies.  Scammers will often send emails or make telephone calls posing as either MSPA Americas or one of its member companies.  But of course neither the MSPA Americas nor any of its member companies will ever ask you to deposit checks and wire excess funds to them.

So how do you recognize and avoid this scam?

1.  Simply ignore emails or advertisements for mystery shopper jobs.  They are scams.
2.  Research online particular mystery shopping companies you may want to consider contacting to make sure they are legitimate.
3.  Don’t pay a fee to get a list of mystery shopping opportunities.
4.  Don’t pay to become certified as a mystery shopper.
5.  Always be skeptical when you are asked to wire money in any business transaction.  Unlike credit card payments where you can get fraudulent payments erased or sending a check that you can stop payment on, wired funds are irretrievable from the moment they are sent.

And the most important tip of all:

6.  Never deposit a check for more than you are owed and wire money back to the person sending you the check, and never consider a payment you receive by check as being in your account until it has fully cleared.

Steve Weisman, an expert in preventing cyberscams and identity theft, is a lawyer and professor at Bentley University. He writes the blogscamicide.com, where he provides daily updated information about the latest scams. His new book is Identity Theft AlertSecret shopper 2Secret shopper 3Secret shopper 4

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