Nigerian Frauds
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419 racket is turning SA into extortion capital of the world as criminals flock here to do business

© Copyright, 2008 The Freeman Institute. All rights reserved. Nothing on this page may be used without explicit written permission.
Note: Reproduction of any kind, including cutting and pasting, is strictly prohibited. 

Link to this site -- -- Link to this site

Check out the main page of Scam Central

Return To Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man

Forward a copy of a 419 letter to The Freeman Institute. We just might list it here in attempt to warn others. Tell us your story.

Courtesy of The Freeman Institute


Police have cracked a massive fraud scam involving a Nigerian syndicate which allegedly conned people out of R43-million. A key figure, Amaruche Odonoko - a 29-year-old Nigerian - was arrested on Monday, together with his 23-year-old South African wife.

Police claim to have linked a Nigerian syndicate to a case in which a British citizen was conned out of R32-million, an American out of R6-million and a Canadian out of R5-million.

The fraud, known as the 419 scam, involves sending letters by Internet and fax to lure businessmen into handing over large sums of money in the false belief they would get millions in return.

The fraudsters often pretend to be relatives of prominent African leaders who are seeking to transfer vast sums out of their countries.

Police say the international racket worth billions is turning South Africa into the extortion capital of the world.

The British National Criminal Intelligence Service and the American Secret Service are now working with the South African Police Service to deal with foreigners who every week jet into the country with dreams of becoming rich overnight.






































Instead, they are being taken for millions by the Nigerian kingpins of the 419 scam, who live the high life in upmarket suburbs of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

This week alone, the 419 scam section of the Gauteng Commercial Crimes unit dealt with eight desperate foreigners who had come to Johannesburg to hand over thousands of dollars.

Superintendent Johnny Smith, head of the only 419 scam unit in South Africa, said there were five kingpins running the fraud network in the country.

The flashy Odonoko and his wife, Mmabatho Mokoena, will apply for bail tomorrow in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court, north of Johannesburg. The couple and four others stand accused of defrauding a Benoni woman and her five British friends out of R840 000.

Police are investigating another case in which it is alleged that over R6-million was extorted from Rxxxxxx Hxxxxxxx, a US citizen.

Odonoko had his home and its contents seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit late last year. The unit confiscated a Sunninghill townhouse and possessions, including a metallic grey Audi TT Roadster for which Odonoko paid R321 000 in five cash installments over a month. Raylene Keightly, the deputy director of the asset forfeiture unit, said the last payment of R47 000 was made in US dollars.

She said the couple traveled regularly between the US, Britain, Nigeria and South Africa, and receipts in the unit's possession showed they shopped for clothes in boutiques on London's elegant Bond Street.

SAPS Sergeant Matthews Mabungwa said the unit also confiscated a R31 000 wide-screen TV, a R22 000 hi-fi and a yellow Audi A3, which they later discovered was stolen.

Odonoko is now being held at Diepkloof Prison south of Johannesburg, but his wife was set free on a warning until tomorrow's court appearance. When she appeared in court on Wednesday, she was wearing
expensive beige leather trousers, a burgundy leather bunny jacket and a pair of imported shoes.

Edward Venning, of the British National Criminal Intelligence Service, said his organisation works with police across Africa on "this enormous issue".

"We think up to £150-million (about R2.4-billion) a year disappears from the UK," he said

Smith said the Nigerian-led syndicates had turned SA into the 419 scam capital of the world. "We have the best technology in Africa. We are also seen as the super power on the continent so criminals from Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, and Ivory Coast are using SA."

The 419 scamsters pay hotel employees and security guards to help them take their victims for a ride. Syndicate members will book victims into hotels in which they have contacts. They also use guards at empty warehouses.

Cops impeded in their efforts

From one of the filthiest, most derelict buildings in central Johannesburg, the eight men and women from the police's 419 scam unit fight one of the biggest cons to hit South Africa.

Commanded by Superintendent Johnny Smith, the unit is the only one of its kind in the country.

They have no computers - but are expected to catch the conmen who lure all their victims through the Internet.

The unit was formed five years ago after it became clear that the 419 scam was taking hold.

They have arrested hundreds of fraudsters, but find it difficult to convict them as their foreign victims, the only witnesses, are either too embarrassed or too frightened to return to SA and testify.

Or they have run out of money and the state cannot afford the cost of the plane tickets to bring them back.

-- by Nicki Padayachee, courtesy of the Sunday Times of South Africa



Not much. We don't want to sound fatalistic, but the reality is that the scam artists hide behind untraceable email addresses, sending their scam letters from pay-by-the-hour Internet Cafes. The governments of Africa are generally in a survival mode, with little interest in dealing with some Internet scam artist in a local village. There are always bigger fish to fry. 

Plus we have actually talked with West African government and business officials about their perception of these 419 scams. They have expressed amazement that anyone could be fooled by the  empty promises contained in emails from a stranger in Africa. In their eyes, the culpability goes both ways. "Who could be such a fool to give money to someone they have never met?" This is a valid question for all of us to ponder...

What we have done at The Freeman Institute is to provide a free service to warn individuals who may be flirting with the idea of great wealth coming their way. Our motto is: Run, don't walk, away from these scams and then do what you can to warn people about this pervasive problem. Feel free to provide a link to -- so that more people can see the truth about these 419 scams.


© Copyright, 2008 The Freeman Institute. All rights reserved. Nothing on this page may be used without explicit written permission.
Note: Reproduction of any kind, including cutting and pasting, is strictly prohibited. 


For hard numbers, the Australian Institute of Criminology article and the US Dept. of State pub. 10465 will prepare you better than this site will. Really good backgrounders. From these you will get an idea of the scope of this scam. There are already inter-governmental relationships established over this issue.


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