I was super excited to get a message from my modelling agency about an audition for a brand; it was scheduled for mid noon on a week day and so I got dressed in my best model audition outfit and made my way to the hotel in Victoria Island where the auditions were holding. I got there right on time and sat with other models. Typically, everyone was either on their phone, pretending to watch CNN on the TV or chit-chatting. This guy walks in and introduced himself as the casting director, regular looking guy, he told us the name of the brand we were going to be auditioning for and said the audition required a little acting with hair and makeup but we had to wait a little longer for other models to arrive before making our way upstairs to the room where the makeup artists were setting up and waiting for us. He asked me if I would be willing to cut my hair if I got the role and I said I would have to talk to my agency.
More models arrived and an attendance list was passed, then he said we would all have to submit our phones, cash and valuables to him to keep in a safe at the reception while our bags will be kept in a locker because we would be filming and he wanted little or no distractions. I wondered what kind of arrangement this was but being that our reputable agency sent us for the auditions and we did not want bad reports getting back to them, we obliged. I had a few thousands and two phones, others had Dollars, Naira and more phones which they counted meticulously, wrote in the valuables paper that was passed around and submitted.
The guy gathered the valuables, called the bartender and told us to order drinks while he kept the valuables at the reception. Most people ordered Chapman and time just went by, after about thirty minutes, the dude had not returned and other models had arrived. I and another model started to worry a bit and we made our way to the reception to ask for his where about, the receptionist told us he had walked out and we should ask the security personnel stationed at the gate. With hurried steps, we walked to the security men and they told us he had left about thirty minutes ago. PAUSE…….
You know how denial and confusion starts to set in when you realize something or you are looking for something? That was what I was experiencing. RESUME…….. I told the security guy that I was sure we were not talking about the same guy, both our description matched but I refused to let it sink in. We walked into the hotel and told the other models what we had discovered and they went from denial to realisation too. All hell broke loose. We started asking questions about his whereabouts, if he was a guest at the hotel, the alleged makeup artists that ought to be waiting for us upstairs but the entire hotel staffs said it was the first time they had seen the con artist and there were no makeup artists lodged in any of their rooms.
Not only had this guy robbed us of all our cash, he had taken our phones and made us order drinks we could not pay for. The models that arrived late kept on thanking their stars for the narrow escape and the once friendly hotel staffs were now hostile and demanding we pay for the drinks. One of the models that arrived late called our agency and explained what had happened. By this time, the gate of the hotel was barred and a few police men had arrived, the representative from our agency came and sorted out the hotel bills. At that time (2014), true caller was an expensive, not so popular and scarce app but the manager had it, he tried the number the con artist had been using to communicate with us to get his ID and alas the name that appeared was a completely different and female name, the con artist was untraceable, gone with the wind.
At this point, the manager was not buying the stories of pretty skinny girls he had once stole glances at, he insisted we were going to the nearest police station to officially make a statement. It was my first time at a station and I was so terrified, we were all taken to an office and given writing materials to narrate our stories. It was already dusk and as I narrated my story, I wondered how and when I was going to get home, Uber was also nonexistent in Nigeria at this time. After our statements and promises from the police officers of locating the con artist, we were released.
An amazing model that had arrived late for the casting named Angel proved she was truly an angel and gave most of the models transportation fare back home. I sat in the bus on my way home, lost in thought and replaying the whole event. I got home by almost 11pm, tired, sad and I had to come up with a convincing story of how I got home so late and my missing phones because my parents did not know I was modelling at the time (story for another day) and this is the first time my sister who is a loyal reader is going to know what really happened *lol, don’t tell mum o*
Needless to say, the police never called back with any lead, I got another phone, the hotel is still opened, the agency is still leading and life did not stop for a second to help mourn our losses.
With love, awareness and cautiousness this Yuletide season from Me to YOU. Happy Holidays. xoxoxo