Thursday, 25 April 2024 04:52

German police bust Nigerian mafia ring for large-scale dating scam

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German authorities announced on Wednesday the apprehension of 11 suspected members of a Nigerian mafia faction linked to a widespread dating scam.

The group, known as the Black Axe gang, was found to be engaged in various criminal activities internationally, with a focus on romance scams and money laundering in Germany, according to Bavarian police.

Describing the dating scam as a "modern form of marriage fraud," law enforcement officials revealed that the fraudsters utilized false identities to feign intentions of marriage and subsequently extorted money from their victims under false pretenses.

The funds obtained were then funneled back to Nigeria through financial intermediaries, employing a commodity-based money laundering scheme that involved purchasing and sending goods to Nigeria, often under the guise of charitable contributions.

Bavarian authorities received around 450 reports of romance scams in 2023 alone, resulting in damages amounting to 5.3 million euros ($5.7 million).

The arrested suspects, all Nigerian nationals aged between 29 and 53, were detained in nationwide raids on Tuesday, during which law enforcement officers raided 19 properties, including homes and asylum shelters.

According to police statements, the Black Axe gang operated under strict hierarchical structures with leadership based in Nigeria, exerting significant influence over politics and public administrations in the country. Their global operations spanned human trafficking, fraud, money laundering, prostitution, and drug trafficking.

The gang operated under the guise of the Neo Black Movement of Africa, presenting itself as a charitable organization to conceal its criminal activities.

This crackdown on the Black Axe gang marks the first of its kind in Germany, signaling a significant effort by law enforcement to combat organized crime networks operating within the country's borders.

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