Romance Scam: Nigeria police rescue foreign women from fraudsters

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The Nigeria police force has rescued an American woman from a suspected fraudster named Chukwuebuka Obiaku in Lagos.

The police as reported by Premium Times claimed that the fraudster lured the woman from the US to Nigeria and forcefully kept her in a hotel room for over 15 months.

The 34-year-old man met the 46-year-old woman on Facebook where he promised her marriage. On getting to Nigeria in February 2019, the woman married Mr Obiaku three months after and was confined in a hotel room against her will.

The woman who is also a retiree from Washington DC, USA lost her credit and debit cards and retirement benefits of over a year to Mr Obiaku.

Filipina woman rescued from Nigerian fraudster

The Nigeria police also announced that it had rescued a Filipino woman from a Nigerian fraudster named Chukwudi Odo.

The 40-year-old woman met the 54-year-old man on Facebook and decided to pay a visit to him in Nigeria. The 10 days intended visit became a six months stay of abuse and torment by her supposed lover.

The Nigerian police have also recently arrested 3 cyber fraudsters all natives of Edo state. The fraudsters have allegedly made millions of naira over the internet illegally and said to have close links and partners in Turkey and Italy.

How does internet scam work?

A report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that over $3 billion had been lost to internet fraudsters and over 400,000 internet users had complained of being scammed in 2019.

Internet scams can take different forms such as business email compromise where the scammer impersonates the CEO of an organization and demands an employee in charge of finance to make a wire transfer to a ‘partner’s’ account which is actually the scammer’s account. Another is advance fee where a person is promised some assets but has to pay upfront before receiving it.

Women in particular are usually targeted with romance scams. Scammers meet women in dire need of relationships on dating sites. The scammers create fake profiles, build close and trustworthy relationships with these women and then fabricate stories requesting for money. Romance scams leave victims in debts and at the risk of losing their jobs.

Would covid-19 worsen internet scam?

The current pandemic has massively increased the number of internet users, some of which are scammers. In a bid to feel less lonely during isolation and lockdown, more people have taken to social network and dating sites. For instance, a study by Sensor Tower showed that Tik Tok had been downloaded 315 million times in the first quarter of 2020. When compared to last year, this figure was almost the entire number of downloads the app received in 2019.

The Coronavirus has given more room for increased engagements and so, internet scam may also increase.

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