Predators lie in wait on social media, says Cindy Wockner

THE final hours of young Cynthia Osokogu’s life were played out in a Nigerian hotel room. The 24-year-old, already with her own business, had been lured to the hotel room by people she met on social media sites.

The 24-year-old, already with her own business, had been lured to the hotel room by people she met on social media sites.

There she was drugged, tied up, tortured and killed.

She had been missing for some time, reported so by her distressed family, when her body was finally found in a mortuary.

The case of Cynthia Osokogu has dominated Nigerian media for weeks since it emerged the young woman, who ran a clothing boutique, was lured to her death by men she met either on Facebook or BlackBerry Messenger groups.

It is known in headlines as the “Facebook murder” and Osokogu is described as the “general’s daughter”, as her father is a retired major-general.

The tragic and disgusting case has quite rightly focused the spotlight on the role of social media and the negative side of the networking sites used by so many people.

Police have now arrested several suspects and paraded them before the media in Lagos, where the murder occurred.

At that bizarre event, the young men reportedly confessed to the crime, saying her strangulation death was a mistake and they had not meant to kill her.

They said Osokogu was not their only victim.

One of the suspects is reported to have told the stunned audience: “We first met on the internet and later when she said she wanted to come to Lagos to shop, I invited her and we accidentally killed her in Concilla Hotel. We thought she had plenty of money that I could collect, so while she was struggling I tied her with a chain and taped her lips to prevent her from shouting.”

They are reported as having said they initially met Osokogu through Facebook, though it was later reported it was a BlackBerry Messenger group.

Whichever it was, the case highlights starkly the dangers of interacting on social media sites with complete strangers.

It seems, from what police have now ascertained, that Osokogu met the young men in what was a well-planned trap.

They are reported to have offered to pay her airfare to Lagos, where they would help her buy garments to sell in her boutique.

It seems she had communicated with them for about four months before her fatal trip to Lagos.

It would also seem she was too trusting of her new social media “friends” and went along with their plan, which turned sinister as soon as they got her inside the hotel room.

The Osokogu family is naturally devastated by her death.

Her body has yet to be released by the Coroner’s office and her family have yet to conduct a formal burial, but her father has warned other young people.

Retired major-general Frank Osokogu says his beloved daughter’s death has not been in vain if it serves as a warning to others about the dangers of meeting social media friends.

One day recently, in a popular Nigerian daily newspaper, there was a story about the murder.

Next to it was a story about a young woman suffering breast cancer whose friends had raised six million naira ($36,000) for her through BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and Facebook.

Her friends had even posted her photograph and medical records online to prove her story was genuine.

The 28-year-old will use the money for medical treatment overseas.

The two stories are stark reminders of how social media can be harnessed for good and for evil.

And the evil can be truly evil, like those who pretended to be businessmen who could help Osokogu with her clothing enterprise.It is a warning for us all and for our children who are growing up in a generation that has embraced social media.

Original source: Herald Sun

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