Embrace Healthy Scepticism: Trust, but verify.

Learn from my personal stories and protect yourself from trauma

by Sylvie Tamanda

In a world where trust can sometimes be elusive, it’s essential to adopt a healthy level of scepticism when it comes to people and situations.While it’s important to have faith in humanity, it’s equally crucial to be discerning and cautious until individuals and circumstances prove themselves trustworthy.

By embracing a mindset of healthy scepticism, we can protect ourselves and make informed decisions that align with our best interests.

Story Time

My blind trust in humanity ended when I got scammed for the sixth time. People who know me generally think I am a very easy-going person who easily trusts other people. And the only reason for that assumption is because I am genuine at heart and in my actions, and when dealing with others, I expect them to be like me.

However, I realised after losing money a few times that not everyone was like me. Also, besides losing money to liars, I have also been emotionally manipulated by people I blindly trusted and, unfortunately, did not ask the right questions.

During COVID-19 lockdown, I started a business with my phone called “Price Arbritrage”. And all the business requires you to do is buy goods at a low price, sell them at a higher price, and pocket the margin.

The way I operate this business is to find items from thrift stores, and other secondhand e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Depop, Vestiare, and Facebook Marketplace, just to name a few. I buy the items and relist them on the same sites for slightly higher prices, or I simply share them with groups and charge a margin for them.

I also have a personal WhatsApp group in which I share my premium and designer goodies, and my clients in that group are mostly bougie ladies, and they’re happy for me to do the dirty work to find them deals; all they want is the item in exchange for their money.

So in September last year, one of my bougie clients messaged me. She wanted me to find a specific Chanel bag for her. She told me her budget, and off I went in search of her bag.

I came across the bag on one of the trusted sites from which I buy stuff, and I messaged the seller. That’s my standard operating procedure.

The bag was listed for £1100, and I asked the seller for a 10% discount, which she agreed to. However, she made an unusual request. She said, “Please don’t make the purchase via the site, because I sold another item and the buyer who bought it was dishonest, and I have now had to take this to court, and it is costing me so much already. If you pay via the platform, it may take much longer for the funds to be released to me because of the ongoing case; however, I really do need the money now to sort out the kids needs.”

Because I had been a victim of scams on the same site, I told her that I unfortunately couldn’t take the risk of dealing with her outside the platform.

For the benefit of the reader who doesn’t know, the way these secondhand platforms work is that they match buyers and sellers together, and they take a commission on the sale. However, in the case of this platform, they charge the buyer (me) a fee called the buyer’s protection fee, and they hold on to the money I pay for the seller’s item until the goods are delivered to my address and I confirm that they’re as expected.

So when Lucy (the seller) requested that I bypass the platform’s security, my initial reaction was NO WAY!!!. And I told her that I had been scammed on the platform before because I agreed to such an arrangement, which was against the platform’s policy; however, she managed to convince me.

She said, “I know how you feel about this, but here’s what we’re going to do. Instead of transferring the £1000 to my personal bank account, I’ll give you my business’s bank details, and you may pay directly there. And this should give you enough protection in case anything were to go wrong.”

I eventually agreed because I figured opening a business account in the UK was not easy. A lot goes into it; why would anyone risk going to prison for just £1000?

Here’s the list of documents needed to open a UK business bank account. See it for yourself and tell me if you wouldn’t have felt the same way I did.

  • a UK business address
  • a company representative living in the UK (usually a director or an employee) who will be an account signatory
  • a UK business plan showing why you need a UK business bank account
  • a clear identification of all parties who own more than 10% of the business

And besides the bank account details, here are a few other things that made me put my guard down:

  1. She had twelve 5-star reviews from other buyers on the platform.
  2. She had been a member of the platform for over three years.
  3. She had other items listed on her profile, like old granny-like shoes.
  4. She mentioned she needed the money urgently for her kids.
  5. Her English was perfectly free of any grammar mistakes.
  6. She sent me more pictures of the bag, wrapped and ready for postage, with my names on it.
  7. And lastly, she came across as a really nice person.

So I fell for it and made the transfer. But before I confirmed the payment, there was a pop-up warning from the bank’s app “Could this be a scam?”, which I ignored, and something else popped up. “Do you know this person?” and I clicked yes.

The transfer went through, and I messaged the seller to share screenshots of the payment.

She politely responded and said she would post the bag in 24 hours. However, 24 hours became 48 hours, and 48 hours became 10 months.

I never got the bag. I messaged her on multiple occasions to ask her what was going on, and her excuse was that she’d posted the bag and it was on its way to me.

However, after a week, I sent her this message: “Hi Lucy, I hope my message finds you well. I have now concluded that this was a scam; however, I’d like to let you know that I work hard for my money. And as long as you have my money and I don’t have your bag, you will never amount to anything good. Every penny you work hard for will slip through your fingers, and you will remain destitute forever”.

The same person who had been ignoring my messages immediately replied, “I don’t take threats lightly, and I have your home address. I will report you to the police. And I shall also send your money back when I get paid on Friday”.

So, I said, “Please call the police right now, because I have now reported you to my bank and the police too.” She blocked me, and that was the end of the story from her end.

I then raised a fraud case with my bank, and they said they’d look into it. All the while, I was comfortable, knowing that if something were to go wrong, I’d contact my bank and they’d get my money back; however, now I know that the bank was discharged of all its responsibilities the moment I clicked “yes”.

My bank was only able to recover £80, so I lost £920. And I unfortunately could not make a complaint to the platform because I didn’t purchase the item there.


Here are my six tips for you that will shield you from people who are dishonest.

You don’t have to through the trauma of finding out that not everyone is like you . Read these tips, wear them on your sleeves and send me a thank you card whenever they come in handy.

1.Understand trust and scepticism

Trust forms the foundation of meaningful relationships and interactions.

However, blindly extending trust without any evaluation can leave you vulnerable to deceit or disappointment. Scepticism, on the other hand, doesn’t mean assuming the worst in everyone but rather maintaining a reasonable level of caution until trustworthiness is demonstrated.

In the case of Lucy, I was deceived by her reviews, sweet-talking, and grammar, although I personally had never dealt with her.


2. Set healthy boundaries

By being initially suspicious, we establish personal boundaries that safeguard our well-being. Setting boundaries allows us to maintain control over our lives, protect our interests, and ensure that our vulnerabilities are not exploited.

It empowers us to navigate relationships and situations with a clear understanding of our values and needs.

If you missed lesson 4, I suggest you read it. I told the story of my friend Lady L, who slept with all my suitors and bragged about it to me. In hindsight, it was my fault. I did not set boundaries. I brought her into my circle of friends, and I trusted her to uphold some basic dignity as a woman, but she never did. She was not like me. She exploited my kindness and stabbed me in the back on multiple occasions.

So, I resolved to guard my precious relationships from people who have not proven to be trustworthy.


3. Assess Intentions and Actions

Healthy scepticism prompts us to evaluate both intentions and actions. It encourages us to consider whether individuals’ words align with their behaviours.

Paying attention to inconsistencies and red flags helps us identify potential discrepancies and make more informed judgements about the trustworthiness of others.

Since my last scam experience, I have paid a lot more attention to what people say and how they behave. There was a guy who contacted me on Facebook recently to buy an item I had listed on the marketplace.

He said, “I am currently at work, so I’ll send a courier to bring the money to your address and collect the goods.” My response was, “There’s a place in hell for scammers”, and I never heard back from him.

He intended to have my goods; however, his actions were a big red flag, and I called him out immediately. And because it was true, he went mute.


4. Develop Discernment Skills

Embracing healthy scepticism fosters the development of discernment skills. It encourages us to become astute observers, to question information, and to critically analyse situations. By honing these skills, we can better distinguish between genuine intentions and ulterior motives, ensuring that we make choices based on sound judgement.

Although every scam and deceptive incident caused me heartache, I am grateful for those experiences. Every one of them has made me better at sniffing out people who are “not like me”, and I brush such people away with the back of my hand now. I can smell them from a distance.

And I don’t want you to go through the trauma I went through. And the only way to guard yourself from the same mistakes I and others have made is by reading extensively and learning from other people’s mistakes.


5. Build Trust through Proof

Trust that is earned through demonstrated reliability and consistency is far more valuable than blind trust. By giving individuals the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy, we foster stronger, more authentic relationships.

This approach encourages open communication, transparency, and accountability, forming a solid foundation for mutual trust.

6. Balancing scepticism and openness

While scepticism is valuable, it’s important to strike a balance between healthy scepticism and openness. Remaining overly suspicious may hinder the growth of meaningful connections and prevent us from embracing new opportunities. By being open to possibilities while maintaining a discerning mindset, we can navigate relationships and experiences with a balanced perspective.

There’s a thin line between scepticism and openness, and I have been caught between these lines before.

After a few heartbreaks, I  resolved to remain single, mind my business, and live my life as happily as I possibly could, solo.

However, a gentleman I was familiar with from my school days started pursuing me for a romantic relationship.

I told him that I was open to nurturing a friendship and that I was not going to have any intercourse until he committed to me as a husband. And his response was, “Babe, I love you, and I want you to be comfortable. For as long as it takes, I’ll wait. I am here for the long haul, so there’s no rush. After all, you’ll be mine forever, so let’s go at your pace”.

After those words, I thought to myself “Perhaps you got the right dude this time, Sylvie”.

He behaved kindly and lovingly towards me, and when he was away from me, he would text me all day long and call me when he was off work.

As the days went by, I felt more and more comfortable about the prospects of us being together, so much so that I began lowering the barriers in my heart. I even gave him a French kiss!!!

At this point, I started feeling guilty for withholding the cookie, and to strike a balance between scepticism and openness, I decided that instead of waiting until marriage, he’d only have to pass Steve Harvy’s 90-day rule test.

What is Steve Harvey’s 90-day Rule?

Steve Harvey’s 90-day rule, as described in his book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” refers to a dating guideline for women. The rule suggests that women wait a minimum of 90 days before engaging in sexual intimacy with a new partner. Harvey proposes this timeframe as a way for women to assess a man’s true intentions and level of commitment before becoming physically intimate.

According to Harvey, the 90-day rule allows women to take the time to get to know a potential partner on an emotional and intellectual level without the interference of physical intimacy. By delaying sexual involvement, women can focus on building a strong foundation of trust, communication, and shared values. This approach aims to help women distinguish between men who are genuinely interested in a committed relationship and those who may be seeking short-term or casual encounters.

The 90-day rule encourages women to prioritise their own emotional well-being and set boundaries when dating. It suggests that investing time and effort in building a solid connection before becoming physically intimate can lead to more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

And there I was, considering a 90-day period over the time it would take to propose and eventually get married before having intimacy.

While I was busy making concessions in my mind, Caleb, on the other hand, was busy thinking about his exit strategy. He’d suddenly gone from texting multiple times a day to neither texting nor calling.

He went MIA (missing in action), and when I tried to find out if all was alright, he made up a story about work being unusually busy, so I let it slide.

Of course, I wasn’t stupid. I knew something wasn’t right. Which is why the day he eventually came clean, I wasn’t heartbroken or too surprised. I had protected my heart very jealously and made sure I was okay in the event of a “relationship quake” (I don’t even know if that’s a word, but you get what I mean, right?).

Caleb said, “I really like you, and you are beautiful, smart, kind, loving, a great cook, and an amazing kisser; however, I don’t think I am the one for you. You are so established; you are a boss lady, with your own house, a car in your garage, and a great job, and I don’t think there’s anything I can add to that. I unfortunately don’t think it would be fair to occupy space in your life when I am unable to provide for you and your son.”

So, my response to his long discourse was OKAY… The lights went OUT, and we each went our separate ways. NO HARD FEELINGS, NO RESENTMENT, NO JUDGEMENT.

Before you consider me an emotionless human being, I’ll like to point something out. When Caleb first approached me, my sceptical instinct was “this guy wants to sleep with me, use me, and run”, so I made sure the barriers to entry into my heart and cookie were very high—so high that he’d have to go through a whole lot of trouble before he got me to the place where I could potentially be vulnerable. But as time went on, my head tried to convince me to be a bit more open and to cut the brother a bit of slack.

Alas, the brother did not even pass the 30-day rule; talk less of Steve’s 90-day rule, and let’s not even go near a marriage.

To conclude today’s lesson, it is important to remember that in a complex world where trust can be fragile, it’s crucial to approach people and situations with a healthy level of scepticism.

By adopting a mindset that requires others to prove themselves trustworthy, we establish boundaries, protect our well-being, and make informed decisions. Healthy scepticism doesn’t imply cynicism but rather a cautious approach that allows us to build trust on a foundation of authenticity and consistency.

So embrace scepticism, trust your instincts, and let others earn your trust through their actions.

If you missed out on the first 5 lessons, read them here

Lesson 1: Embrace Independence: No One Will Be in Your Life Forever
Lesson 2: The Impact of an Absent Father: Nurturing Awareness and Sensitivity
Lesson 3: The Power of Resilience: Your Response to Adversity Makes or Breaks You
Lesson 4: Navigating Relationships: The Art Of Dealing With Manipulative Family and Friends
Lesson 5: Embracing the Reality of Family Disloyalty and Lack Of Support



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