The Nigerian nation has often found itself in the spotlight for one reoccurring wrong reason; internet fraud! This is due to the nonferrous activities of few bad eggs who abuse the internet and use it for various inhumane fraudulent acts.
Recall the case of August 2019 which involves a young and famous Nigerian entrepreneur, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for online phishing of an English company.
There is another case of alleged financial scams orchestrated by employees of Jumia, an African e-commerce platform that operates across Africa.
The third involves eighty Nigerians arrested by the FBI for online fraud and money laundering.
Nigeria, you have a serious problem on your hands. In less than one week:
– Fraudster ‘Forbes CEO’ arrested
– Jumia fraud blamed on Nigerians
– 80 person indictment for fraud in L.A.Twitter: @africatechie
The international media have always been agog with several reportages of online fraud committed by a few Nigerians. The emphasis on “a few” is informed by the fact that not all Nigerians are fraudulent. Truly, millions of Nigerians are honest, hardworking, and committed to earning a legitimate living through upright living. Hence, trashing a basket-full of egg because of a handful of bad eggs is wrong.
“Do Catholics have a problem because of a few bad priests? Muslims because of a few bad guys? You can state the facts but your conclusion is a false representation and an unfair statement. Why do we blame western media for misrepresenting us when we do this?Twitter: @TFAJ17
“It’s gotten to the point where Nigeria is blamed for
– Forbes an American company’s poor due diligence
-Critics used to say Jumia wasn’t an African company. Now that there’s fraud it is definitely African
– The 80 were from all over the world including NigeriaTwitter: @iamslick
Truly, the activities of a few have bastardized the name of the nation and its citizens in the international sphere. Today, individuals from either the US, Canada, UK, and others see an average Nigeria as a fraudster.
Case Studies of Topical Internet Fraud Recorded in the Recent Past
From Instagram Celebrity to Prison
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas alias popularly known as Hushpuppi is known for his lavish lifestyle which he flaunts on social media. He was arrested by United Arab Emirates security agencies in his Dubai residence in 2020. According to a report by CNN, Hushpuppi was accused of planning to steal hundreds of million dollars through a business email compromise (BEC), targeting a foreign bank, and an English Premier League club.
Hushpuppi who upon being arrested was extradited to the US where he is facing charges of laundering funds from a $14.7 million heist of a foreign financial institution in 2019.
He is also is accused of plotting to be part of a plan to steal $124 million from an English Premier League soccer club (name of team withheld).
From Forbes to FBI Inmate
Obinwanne Okeke, better known as Invictus Obi, was arrested by the FBI on August 6, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia. He is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud through a scam involving his business. His company, Invictus Group, has financial interests in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, telephone lines, and real estate.
Celebrated as one of Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs, O. Okeke appeared on Forbes’ Under-Thirty List in 2016.
He was arrested in connection with the hacking of an email account belonging to an executive of Unatrac Holding Ltd., a steel company, which resulted in an eleven million dollar fraud. According to the affidavit cited by Sahara Reporters:
The Chief Financial Officer of Unatrac got a phishing mail that has a website link supposedly to the login page of the CFO’s online email account hosted by Microsoft Office365. When the CFO opened the link, it instead redirected him to a phishing site cloned to imitate the legitimate login page of Microsoft Office365. Thinking that the page is real, the CFO keyed in his login details, which were immediately captured by an anonymous cybercriminal who controlled the deceptively cloned web page.
Unatrac’s CFO got a link in a phishing email to the login page for his email account, which is hosted by Microsoft Office365. When he clicked on the link, it took him to a phishing site mimicking the real login page. Thinking that the page is real, he keyed in his login details, which were intercepted by an internet fraudster who owns the fake web page.
This thirteen-month investigation, which began in July 2018, ultimately led to Mr. Okeke’s arrest, and subsequent conviction in 2021.
“The Invictus Obi affidavit demonstrates what I have always said, that Nigerian fraudsters who do 419 are sketchy. Their victims are also simple. How can a company with a CFO who can authorize transfers of millions of dollars have no endpoint security or transaction authorization?Twitter: @asemota
“Abusive Selling Practices”
Jumia, Africa’s largest e-commerce platform, revealed in its second-quarter report published on August 21, 2019, that it has “fired and suspended employees after investigations into abusive sales practices” in its operations in Nigeria.
The media published that Jumia “found instances where independent sales agents and salespeople were working with employees to profit from what salespeople were paying to use the online platform and the commissions the agents were collecting.” According to Bloomberg, the scam “amounts to over 4% of first-quarter revenue”.
The report revealed that Jumia had:
…Received information alleging that some of our independent sales consultants, members of our JForce program in Nigeria, may have engaged in improper sales practices. In response, we launched a review of sales practices covering all our countries of operation and data from January 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019. We have terminated the employees and JForce agents involved, removed the sellers implicated, and implemented measures designed to prevent similar instances in the future.
…Received information that some of our independent sales consultants, members of our JForce program in Nigeria, have engaged in abusive business processes. In response, we launched a review of business practices covering all of our countries of operations and data from January 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019. We terminated the employees and JForce agents involved, as well as vendors involved, and have measures in place to prevent similar cases from recurring.
The Berlin-based Jumia company nicknamed “The Amazon of Africa” was launched in Lagos, Nigeria in 2012 and operates in several African countries. The company’s stock price, listed on the New York Stock Exchange since April 2019, fell after the publication of the second quarter balance sheet.
A “sophisticated” multi-million dollar Internet fraud ring
On August 22, Nigeria again made headlines on several US news channels about the three-year FBI investigation. CNN has uncovered a “vast conspiracy that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars from seniors and businesses through various scams and the laundering of stolen money”. Most of the 80 people charged were Nigerians, and one of the headlines on the CBS Los Angeles website called the series of scams “a sophisticated Nigerian online fraud and money laundering system”.
According to CBS, “the defendants have targeted victims in the United States and around the world with romance scams and by using fake emails from known companies to obtain money sent by the victims under false pretenses. “
The FBI said the systems used resulted in a fraudulent transfer of at least $ 6 million.
A Summary of the Effects of Internet Fraud on Nigeria
Odious bad Reputation on Nigeria and Nigeria
Internet Fraud has brought a great deal of bad reputation to the Nigerian nation. The world knows Nigeria as a nation of fraudsters and this has painted the nation black in the international sphere.
Loss of Business, and Investment Opportunities
The loss of a good reputation is so huge that bilateral trade options from foreign nations have been drastically reduced. Genuine business investors that were supposed to come into the country are scared away by the prevalence of internet fraud.
Distrust and Stigmatization
Internet Fraud has also brought about distrust to Nigerians living abroad. Most Nigerians in the diaspora are seen as a part of the internet fraud clique. Most Nigerians have recounted how they were subjected to stiffer scrutiny in their workplace because of the erroneous perception of every Nigerian as a scam.
Restriction from Accessing Life-Changing Opportunities
Nigerians are restricted from accessing few or all features of some websites and legitimate online opportunities because of the fraudulent atrocities committed by few unscrupulous individuals. An excellent example is the Paypal platform. Nigerians can open a payment account on Paypal but are banned from receiving payment using the platform. As a result, millions of honest Nigerians are automatically restricted from taking advantage of most platforms that use PayPal as a payout.
In this era of remote work opportunities, Nigerians are continuously losing life-changing opportunities, and are prevented from enjoying equal rights as their counterparts from other nations.
The thought of being perceived as a thief because you are from Nigeria should serve as a deterrent to these few Nigerians. Life is bigger than amassing illegitimate wealth. Nigerian youths must understand that there is dignity in legitimate labor and there are greater gains in doing legitimate businesses.
Nigerians are talented, intelligent, and hugely gifted; hence youths must take to doing legitimate businesses alone, as this is the only way to become successful in all ramifications of life and also attract huge development to the country.