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Beware of Scammers

Students who want to study abroad should be aware of people and higher studies agencies that make false promises of processing applications and scholarships.

A student from Bangladesh wanted to study abroad for a long time. She is 25 years old and she loves studying. One day, she wanted to become everyone’s inspiration to never give up on their educational dreams.

A girl like her fell for a scammer.

She said that she was desperate to study abroad and no one was helping her. Everyone she trusted turned their backs on her and kept pushing her to get married.

When she was on the verge of a breakdown. On 22 August 2021, a friend named Sheikh Toaha called her and told her that she would help her to get admitted to a university in Europe. They started chatting every night, sharing their personal problems and became closer than ever.

The 25-year-old girl was motivated by her words and held Toaha’s hand, thinking of her as her savior. Toaha had been collecting people's information to give them jobs. She also had a Facebook page about her work to send students abroad. The student had no reason not to believe her. Toaha said her 4-years study gap would become a huge problem to study abroad and so she could only apply for Foundation Course. By Toaha's words, to open her file in the agency, she had to pay 25,000 BDT (Bangladeshi Taka).

On Saturday, 4 September 2021, the girl met Toaha at Bashundhara City, Panthapath and gave her hard-earned money without having the slightest doubt. Before paying, she asked if the processing was canceled for some reason, if she would get the full payment back. Toaha answered that a full refund was possible. She paid cash without having any money receipt in return. So, there was no evidence.

After that, they had frequent chats mostly starting with Sheikh Toaha. While the student wanted to go to the Czech Republic, Toaha kept pushing her to go to Romania. Romania is a wonderful country, no doubt, but the student did not want to study there. However, Toaha called her and probed further to study in Romania. It created doubts in the student’s mind.

Later, she called a teacher who also sent students abroad and he told her that from Bangladesh no one would get a student visa for Foundation Course. The student was thoroughly confused and decided to study from home (Online Course). On 22 September 2021, the girl decided to ask Toaha to cancel the processing.

Toaha told her that she already paid the money to the agency in Europe and it would be impossible to repay the money. However, the student could not believe it. After all, any legal company would refund the money if they could not provide any service to the customer.

On 24 September 2021, Toaha agreed to refund the money. She also mentioned if the student needed any help, she would gladly help her. Assured by her words, she let it slide. They kept in contact and had their usual conversation.

On 3 October 2021, the student wanted to meet Toaha at the same place she gave her the money. She wanted her money to be refunded. However, there was no reply. The next day, she texted again and Toaha replied that she was not around Dhaka. As the student wanted to meet, Toaha asked for bank information. She also offered a study opportunity in the USA and asked for an amount of 1,500,000 BDT. The student did not agree to it and sent the information back on 10 October 2021.

However, surprisingly without paying the money, Toaha told her to talk to someone they knew. The student used to work in a small company as a volunteer and Toaha used to call him Bari Vaia (Brother Bari). The student was surprised. She could not understand why she needed to talk to a third person who had no involvement in the whole situation.

On 22 October 2021, the student politely asked Toaha to pay back the money and Toaha replied that she would pay next month. On 2 November 2021, the student reminded her and Toaha who was always active on social media did not reply before 15 November 2021. She once again asked for her bank related information and the student provided them. After that, there was no communication from Toaha’s end.

On 23 November 2021, the student gave her a last reminder. She said Toaha has 7 days left to pay back as November would end soon and Toaha promised to pay by November. On 24 November 2021, Toaha replied, “What are you saying?” and the next day, she texted, “Are you angry? Please give me some time.” The student did not reply to her and so she called the student on Messenger at night who did answer the call. On 28 November 2021, the student reminded Toaha again but Toaha texted, “Understood” in Bangla language using English letters.

On 2 December 2021, the student texted her again and Toaha talked to her intimately and told her to wait, she was there. However, the student started to grow impatient. She sent a long text and complained about Toaha’s behavior who asked for 1-2 days and the student agreed. Two days later, she texted again but there no reply from Toaha. On 9 December 2021, she called but Toaha did not answer, so she sent a text and got a reply from Toaha who said that she did not get the money yet and that she would pay 20,000 BDT. She even gave excuses like she worked for many students and the other students owed her $800 and so on.

The student finally realized that she became a victim of a scammer. She thought how hard she worked all these years to study abroad and now her money was forfeited. It was her 5 months’ worth living money.

The victim asked the scammer to pay the full amount of 25,000 BDT.

On 9 December 2021, the scammer Toaha texted her again and blamed the victim for not taking a decision in time. She insisted that she never said she would refund 25,000 BDT because the agency will keep 5,000 BDT. Toaha even said how could the student forget when she told her about it while taking the money in September.

The funny part was that the victim could not remember such discussion. She clearly remembered talking about a full refund and Toaha agreed. Thus, she argued back.

On 10 December 2021, the scammer Toaha asked for bKash number.

bKash is a mobile financial service in Bangladesh operating under the authority of Bangladesh Bank as a subsidiary of BRAC Bank Limited.

However, the victim did not have bKash. So, she sent her elder sister’s bank information.

The same day, Toaha texted that the money did not arrive and asked the victim not to get angry.

On 11 December 2021, the victim was frustrated by Toaha’s game. She told her to pay it back as soon as possible. Toaha replied, “Did I say that I won’t pay you back? Why are you talking like this? Did you ask others before paying me?”

The way Toaha texted as if she was the victim and the student was a loan shark.

The victim told her if she was so free to chat, she should refund.

One week was gone but there was no reply. The victim texted Toaha but got no reply from her.

On 26 December 2021, the victim called her a fraud.

On 5 January 2022, the victim sent her another text where she threatened to sue Toaha.

On 16 January 2021, Toaha posted a picture on Facebook and the victim asked her to return the money in the commented section.

Finally, that day, Toaha texted her showing excuses, like people owe her 1,600,000 BDT. She sent her number so the victim called her. She would play the victim and pretend how the victim is trying to ruin her reputation in public and so on.

The victim directly replied that she did not care about anything. She needed her money by January and the scammer Toaha agreed.

On 25 January 2022, the victim told her that she would call the police if she did not pay back. But the scammer Toaha texted that she was sick and on bed rest. She wanted more time but the victim did not wanted to give her more time. The victim could not trust the scammer anymore. On 29 January 2022, the scammer Toaha said that she still did not have the money.

On 31 January 2022, at the end of the month, the victim asked if the money was ready but the reply was negative.

On 1 February 2022, the victim gave her 3 more days. On 3 February 2022, the scammer texted her to call her. The victim did not want to talk to her. Toaha texted her mobile was lost.

It was funny how the scammer was facing all these tragedies one after another when the victim was asking for refund. It was funny how a girl traveled countries and spent money but suddenly have no money to refund.

The victim laughed and reminded her of WhatsApp where all the numbers are saved, so if the scammer wanted, she would always get the number from there. Toaha told her if she could pay 5000 per month, she could easily pay the victim. She kept calling but the victim’s messenger notification was turned off and she did not notice any call from Toaha. Later when she noticed, she said she would only pick up the call if the money was ready.

The victim gave her another week to pay and Toaha texted, “Allah bless you.”

But the week passed and now it was almost the end of February.

On 23 February 2022, the victim sent another text but the scammer only said that she would pay. The victim was thoroughly pissed and asked, “After my death or yours?” She extended the time and told Toaha to pay back by 3rd March. Now, it was scammer Toaha’s time to lecture again. She said, “You shouldn’t speak without knowing anything.”

The victim flared up this time. She thought, ‘How could she come to lecture me when she won’t even pay back? She acts like she is the one who is suffering when she took my hard-earned money – the money I saved to study!’

On 2 March 2022, after argument between both parties, the scammer Toaha said, “I lost so much money. There is no point telling you… Maybe I will be able to pay you tomorrow… Don’t misunderstand me. I’m under a lot of pressure. I know you are doing everything on your own. I’m sorry. Please don’t misunderstand me…” and so on. She also called on Messenger several times knowing very well that the victim would not be able to answer her call.

The victim was stunned how the girl who traveled to Nepal and Malaysia could not even pay her 25,000 BDT. She looked for the Facebook page Toaha had for student visa business but she couldn't find it anywhere. She asked several people but they couldn't find that page either. The link was simply gone from Sheikh Toaha's FB profile.

Unable to take the scammer Toaha’s lies anymore, she posted a status on Facebook on 10 March 2022 and tagged 7 people who knew Sheikh Toaha. She also wanted to tag Toaha but realized that Toaha unfriended her on Facebook after the victim wrote a comment to refund her money on Toaha’s post.

After that, she texted Toaha saying she gave her last chance. The scammer was still being all dramatic. Later on, someone screenshots the victim’s Facebook post and sent it to Toaha.

On 11 March 2022, at 03:07 am Toaha texted the victim sharing the post. She wanted to know what it was. The next day, the victim texted that she would go to the police. Once Toaha told the victim that she would go to Russia and live there. The victim reminded her if she went to the police, the scammer would forever have a criminal record and it would be hard for her to go abroad.

After lots of arguments and the scammer’s lies, on 30 April 2022, the scammer sent 5100 BDT, not to the victim’s bank account but to an unrelated person’s bKash number. Later, she sent another 2000 BDT to the same person’s account.

The victim could not understand why the scammer was making everything so complicated but she got 7100 BDT back. She was slightly relieved.

On 23 May 2022, the victim asked if the scammer would pay back by that week and Toaha promised she would pay by March 2022.

On 30 May 2022, the scammer said that she was suffering from the pox. Not believing the words, the victim told her to go to jail with pox. Then, the scammer pretended to be a victim again and texted, “Have you lost your mind? Control your behavior. I won’t say anything.”

The victim hated to be lectured by the scammer and directly called her a criminal.

However, the scammer Toaha’s lies continued to go further and further because March, April, May and June passed but she did not pay the victim anymore.

On 6 July 2022, the scammer texted, “You waited for so long, please wait another few days. No work will start before 20 July.” The victim replied that there was no way she would be considerate to her. She would send a lawyer letter to the scammer if the money was not paid by that week.

As July 20 came, their argument was ongoing.

On 20 July 2022, the victim texted her, “You wanted 20th July.” The scammer replied, “Thursday.” It meant that she wanted to pay by 21 July. When the victim did not want to agree, Sheikh Toaha kept lying about her situation and requested more time.

On 21 July 2022, finally the scammer sent 1,020 BDT and later on 24 July 2022 sent another 1,020 BDT to the victim’s elder sister’s bKash account.

After that, the scammer’s lies continued.

On 4 August 2022, the scammer texted, “I’ll pay you tomorrow, please wait.” Although the victim argued, she did not go to the police and gave the scammer a final chance.

However, the scammer was a liar from the beginning to the end. She did not pay.

The victim decided to go to the police station soon. She wanted justice for herself and also wanted to spread the story all over the world so that people would not fall victim of scammers just like her.

A video of the screenshots of (some of) their text messages is added below:

The victim’s note:

Hello everyone, I am Disha and I am a student. I have a habit of trusting people I know and that is why I became a victim. I know there are students out there desperate to study abroad. My request to you is please search for a good university on your own and contact them. Do not hire a third party and do not trust anyone with this kind of problem. People will use their sweet words and tell you exactly what you want to hear. This is called a honey-trap. After you believe in them and pay money, they will just vanish.
So, do not trust anyone with your money: especially friends and teachers and whoever you think are close to you. Those who are unfortunate, their families are a bunch of trash too. My family would not help me with my study abroad which is why I had to work hard every day to save little by little to study and then I had to become a victim of a scammer.
Therefore, contact the university first and they will let you know if they have any agency working for them in your country and those agencies will help you for free because universities pay them. If there is no agency then you have to directly apply to the university. All you have to do is to have a conversation with the university authority. Work like this could be done on your own.
I have suffered so much after paying that scammer 25,000 BDT. It was my 5 months’ budget. Only I know how much I suffered for 5 months after I paid Sheikh Toaha my budget money. There were times I had to eat only once and starve the whole day. I am still happy that I did not use the money I saved for studying.
Please pray for me.
As for those who knew Sheikh Toaha and the incident but stayed quiet just to watch the show – let me tell you, you are a bunch of losers! Since childhood we were taught - those who do wrong and those who tolerate it are both criminals. When you stay quiet about people’s wrongdoings, that doesn't make you a hero who is protecting the peace. It also makes you a criminal because you are giving criminals more courage to do more wrongdoings by staying quiet. It is not like I wanted direct help from you when I posted that incident on Facebook. I wanted to raise awareness and also I wished those who knew her would raise their voices. At least would tell Sheikh Toaha that she should pay my money back or give me ideas how to get back my money. But you did nothing. You are more pathetic than the dogs on the street. So, I have decided I will have no connection with you. After this incident is over, I will unfriend all those people from my Facebook account and contact list. I do not want to have a friendship with garbage or I will stink everywhere I go.
As for who are reading this article, please be aware. Don't tell anyone about your plan to study abroad. Whatever you wish to talk, directly contact the university and talk to them. No third person. Trust no one who wants to help you out like Sheikh Toaha did to me. Always keep money receipt and contact via email. Keep proves, pictures and information about the people who want to help you out.

PS: Update about this incident will be added in the future.

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