Africa, of late, has become a favourite destination for fraudsters
and con artists.
Some may find it sweeping generalization or even unfair treatment
- but the fact remains that there is no sign of a decline in scam
proposals originating from Africa even after wide publication of
Nigerian and other scams.
Worse, the fraudster population seem to be growing everyday with
newer and more daring con games. Victims have nowhere to go as there
is no law court or policing authority against these fraudsters.
Exporters and importers should be careful of various seemingly lucrative
proposals coming from African countries - specially Nigeria, Benin,
Togo, Cote' D Ivory etc. and exercise enough caution.
We document here a few scams. Some of these are specific to Africa
- others more universal.
Nigerian Money Offer (419 scam)
This is by far the most popular one - where Nigerian businessman,
Bank Manager, Govt Bureaucrat or just about anybody offers huge
sums for small help in siphoning money out of their country. We
have written many articles on this scam (also called Nigerian 419
scam) - please see past issues at
Nigerian Oil Fraud (Bony Crude)
Bonny Light oil is a grade of crude oil produced in the Bonny region
of Nigeria. Fraudsters present lucrative and legitimate looking
offer for this oil. These self-declared oil traders offer to sell
as much as 1,000,000 barrels of Bonny Light oil at below market
rates. In many cases, they are able to present legitimate trade
and shipping documents, acknowledging the seller's oil allocation
rights. Buyers who accept these trades are persuaded to provide
significant cash fees up front. The charges are normally in the
region of $50,000. Fraudsters claim the charges are for anything
from agency fees to reassignment charges.
ICC's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has found that a variety
of false supporting documents are being used, all of which allegedly
feature the corporate logos of legitimate international companies,
such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
In the majority of cases seen by the IMB, this forged paperwork
includes the following documents: Joint Venture Contract Agreement
for the Sale and Purchase of Nigerian Crude Oil; Charter Party;
MOU between Nigerian sellers and named buyer; Master's Receipt of
Documents; Certificate of Authenticity; Joint Venture Bill of Lading;
Master's Receipt for Samples; Cargo Manifest; NNPC Bonny Terminal
Certificate of Quantity; and; Certificate of Quality.
Often these meticulously forged documents name vessels that actually
loaded oil cargoes at Bonny. The vessel's stamp and master's name
- though not the signature - are often also correct. The genuine
cargo, however, is consigned to a completely different party.
Illegal Immigrants Disguised as Buyers or
Fraudsters run illegal immigration racket in the disguise of export
import company. They offer to send buyers or agents for negotiation,
inspection of manufacturing facility etc. and request official invitation
letter from exporter/ manufacturer. Visa, obtained by producing
these genuine papers, is then used to send illegal job-seekers.
When in doubt, please check the age and position of the visitor.
Very young or low ranking buyers should arouse suspicion. If you
receive request for groups of buyers - please check the credibility
of the company thoroughly.
If you receive Letter of Credit (L/c) from an unknown local bank,
be sure to check the bank's credibility. If there are any doubts
about its financial condition, it is advisable to request confirmation
of the L/C from a reliable bank.
Refusing payment for Remaining Shipment
This is a common trick where the fraudster gains trust of exporter
in first part of a deal by making immediate payment by T/T. However,
he refuses to pay for second part of the shipment. When working
on a T/T basis, there is very little an exporter can do if importer
refuses to pay. It pays to remain alert - one successful deal should
not change all equations.
Avoid Payment through Changed Identity
Some importers deliberately shut down their existing companies and
set up new ones in order to avoid payment, leaving exporters unable
to collect money. If your partner suddenly changes his or her company's
name and places a big order on credit, it is wise to check the company's
legal status on the export contract and shipping documents.
Happy and Safe Surfing
Dr. Amit K Chatterjee