Hyderabad: Nigerian fraudsters are cautious in hiding their money, which makes it extremely difficult for authorities to recover the defrauded money. Earlier, they used to transfer money using hawala transactions. With advent of cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, stashing money with their family members in Nigeria and other African countries has become much easier for them.
This month, Hyderabad cyber crime police nabbed two Nigeran nationals involved in different crimes. While they were successful in arresting them, money was not in their possession. Police suspect that by the time they reached the accused, the money had been transferred to four to five different overseas accounts.
In the first case, Nigerian national Ezumezu Lucky Ozah of New Delhi hatched a criminal conspiracy with one Deepak and swindled money. The cyber crime police arrested Ezumezu but were unable to recover money. Vizag police were relatively lucky though when they nabbed the same Ezumezu, who impersonated as a woman to commit a cyber fraud involving `34 lakh. However, they could recover only `2 lakh.
In another case booked by Cyber crime police station in Hyderabad, Nigerian national James Lucky Obasi was arrested for an online gift fraud case on January 5, 2020. Investigators made strenuous efforts, but nothing could be recovered.
Sharing his experience, an investigating officer said that in one case, they landed in Tiruppur of Tamil Nadu after they got to know that the Nigerian involved in a narcotics case had used his illegally earned money to buy clothes and export the same to his home country, where there is a high demand for Indian clothes. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, K.V M. Prasad, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime, Hyderabad, said, “Earlier, they converted defrauded money into clothes and exported them to their home countries. Later, they started using hawala transactions. But with advancements in technology and advent of digital currencies like bitcoin, they are easily transferring money to family members in Nigeria and other African countries”.
Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are decentralised. There is no central organisation, which is aware of all transactions. “To avoid suspicion, the accused usually save money in the bank accounts of their friends and relatives, who are not involved in any crime,” Prasad disclosed.
He cautioned people not to transfer funds online over marketing websites or social media platforms, unless they receive the product into their hands. Job or loan seekers should also not pay or transfer money without verifying the genuineness of persons and companies.