Nigeria is well known around the globe for being the country that promoted and triggered internet scams as we know them today. Investigators in Nigeria say that although the online crime schemes have evolved in time and have spread throughout the globe, much of the structure of internet crime comes from the early days in this country, where people were contacted by email by a supposed prince promising great fortunes in exchange of some initial financial help.
What makes Nigeria a high risk country?
Nigeria is a complex country. One of the things that may have helped the industry of online scamming is that it’s Africa’s most populated nation, and a great part of this population lives under sad conditions. In the last decade, more than 50% of the population had been classified as living under the line of poverty. The living standards and income have not changed in this country since 1970, while the economy itself grows more due to exploitation of its oil resources. Despite being the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria ranked in 2014 at the 152nd place out of 177 countries on the scale of the Human Development Index (HDI). Inequality is a major problem here, and inequality a major trigger for crime.
But besides poverty and inequality, there is another factor that has helped the industry of fraud and scam boost their numbers. Nigeria, specifically Lagos, is today’s trendy place in the developing Africa. Many new businesses are surging in Lagos as it grows into the world’s fastest growing city for international business. Business people are eager to enter into this market full of new opportunities. Many say that Lagos will soon become into a main hub in Africa for luxury goods, which will be accessible only to the very (extremely) rich and a minuscule minority of the population, making inequality even worse. It’s important for companies and individuals to know, that when dealing with Nigeria, the risk is high, but there are also many legitimate and honest players.
Given the above, there are a lot of reasons for foreign investors to seek business in Nigeria. However, some of them do not care about conducting proper due diligence in Nigeria before getting involved in any deal, and they end up regretting their decision. The risk is too high not to verify.
Fraud and corruption are totally permeated in the core of the government. Police abuses the rights of the average citizens every day. Low salaries and a culture of impunity have led to making the problem even bigger. “Many of our clients wonder how Nigerian internet criminals get away with scams given that they could be tracked through banking and Western Union transactions. Even when there is clear evidence of crime and the person responsible, it is difficult to get the authorities to investigate or prosecute criminals” says Stephen Garcia, VP of Private Investigation at Wymoo.
Internet fraud in Nigeria is not an isolated problem, it a major problem and it being conducted by vast criminal networks, not by two or three individuals. With the protection of corrupt officers from the government, Nigerian scammers can continue making this industry profitable for a long time.
How to protect yourself from being victim?
Nigerian scammers target people all around the globe, especially those coming from developed countries. Love scams and business fraud originating in Nigeria have affected millions of people from the United States, Australia, the U.K. and other countries. Nigeria criminal accomplices now operate from within developed countries, such as the U.K. or U.S. In many Nigeria scam cases, the victim never hears the word Nigeria even mentioned. It is becoming a more organized crime.
As mentioned before, there is little that can be done once you have been a victim, because it is then a matter of authorities taking action, and they rarely cooperate. What can be done is prevention. Prevention is key. Contact a reputable private investigator for a background check in Nigeria when you meet someone you are interested in (whether it is personal or business). Don’t ignore the risk and hope for the best. As scam victims can tell you, the damage can be devastating.
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