Munich. The suspects, who all held Nigerian citizenship and were aged between 29 and 53, were arrested in nationwide raids on Tuesday, according to the Bavarian authorities/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

German police arrest 11 Nigerians over dating scam

German police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested 11 suspected members of a Nigerian criminal group behind a large-scale dating scam.

A total of 19 homes and asylum hostels in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Hamburg were searched, according to the Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation and the Munich I public prosecutor’s office in a joint statement. Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann spoke of the “largest nationwide strike against the Nigerian mafia to date”.

The eleven persons arrested are Nigerian men aged between 29 and 53. Most of them had been living in Germany for years, the officials explained. They are said to have been engaged in romance fraud and money laundering in the country.

Romance fraudsters simulate interest in a romantic relationship on online dating platforms and exploit their victims for money, the officials say. In Bavaria alone, such romance scams caused their victims more than five million euros in 2023 alone, they revealed.

The money was subsequently transferred to Black Axe in Nigeria, a criminal confraternity, “via financial agents”, the authorities said. In the process, the gang is said to use a “commodity-based money laundering” scheme where products, often with a seeming “charitable purpose”, were bought and delivered to Nigeria.

According to the authorities, investigations into the activities of the Black Axe have been ongoing for two years. The confraternity, also known as the Neo Black Movement of Africa (NBM), is one of several confraternities that they together call the ‘Nigerian mafia’.

Investigators would now “meticulously analyse” the evidence, mainly mobile phones and data carriers, seized on Tuesday. The aim is also to “find other perpetrators and those behind the offences”, according to the investigators.

Austin Ohaegbu

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