African Diplomat Warns About Nigerian Fraud Schemes
By Candia Dames
If you are among the many Bahamians receiving e-mails from Nigerians almost daily inviting you to assist in the transfer or investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, authorities say there is a good chance that you are being invited to participate in a fraudulent scheme.
Nigerian High Commissioner to The Bahamas Habib Elabor reminded when he appeared on the Love 97 programme, "Jones and Company", which aired on Sunday that "it takes two to tango."
"As they say in law, the thief and the man who agrees to keep stolen property are equally guilty of theft," Mr. Elabor said.
"We know that there are thieves in Nigeria who have stolen our money, kept this money in Western banks and when we now ask the West to release this money to Nigeria they are refusing to do that.
"How do you explain [that]? Is it Nigeria that is corrupt or those people who are abetting in this corruption?"
Bahamian police said recently that in 2002, a Bahamian businessman reported that he was scammed out of thousands of dollars and threatened by the Internet perpetrators.
Police eventually advised the man to change his e-mail address and telephone contact.
"These people who are involved in this type of scam act on the greed of individuals that they pitch the business idea to. It’s amazing that in this day and age persons are being swindled out of money by advanced thieves," Assistant Superintendent of Police Drexel Cartwright told The Bahama Journal recently.
In an earlier report on this matter, The Journal released details of one of these e-mails in which an individual, who identified himself as a Nigerian and claimed to be a financial controller of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, pitched a business investment.
He invited the receiver to transfer $120,000 to a Nigerian account for a private investment, which would accumulate up to $120 million.
The letter also requested personal information from the individual including a personal address, phone contact, bank address and account number.
The letter states that after the deposit is received the Nigerian will meet with the investor to finalize the transaction.
Mr. Elabor expressed surprise that some people could be so "gullible" that they actually act on such offers.
The High Commissioner, who is also the Nigerian diplomat in Cuba, said about three weeks ago a Bahamian man came to meet him in Havana and informed that he was getting involved in an investment involving hundreds of millions of dollars with Nigerian partners.
"I [asked] this man, ‘did you execute a contract in Nigeria? Where’s the proof? Who are your Nigerian partners?’ Under our law there is no way you would execute a contract of such magnitude without having Nigerian partners. He could not point out who his partners were," Mr. Elabor said.
"I said ‘If you want to pursue this matter, I would advise our government to listen to you. But if it turns out you are [aiding and abetting] people with criminal intensions, you too could face [our] law’. That is how we ended it."
Mr. Elabor said he gave the Bahamian man a copy of the advisory that the Nigerian central bank has been issuing throughout the Western press.
"If anyone is in doubt [he or she] should refer such letters to the embassy," he said. "Don’t ever succumb to the temptation that is inherent in these letters."