Society

Nigerians: Pawn Stars Of International Fraud

Nigeria is notorious for being a fraudulent nation. This is due to the high rate of Nigerians engaging in fraud both in Nigeria and in countries like the USA, UK, Malaysia, South Africa, and Cyprus. Yes, it’s true, a lot of fraudsters come out of Nigeria, but in my opinion, they are pawns being used in the grand scheme of things. 

Other countries have people who have jumped aboard the scamming ship so it’s not clear why Nigeria is still known as the number one sanctuary for scammers. It probably has a lot to do with ‘first-mover’ lead that Nigeria had, so upcoming copycats keep referencing the country. Corruption is often used as a reason though.

These other countries are known for drug trafficking, assassination, and human trafficking, but they got blockbuster Hollywood movies made about them instead of the negativity. Is it because we are Africans?

The Italian Mafia

The Mafia is a group that is involved in a number of illegal activities that include murder, extortion, corruption, gambling, labor racketeering, loan sharking, tax fraud schemes, and stock manipulation schemes.

The Italian Mafia originally started in the mid-19th century in Sicily. The Sicilians called it the Cosa Nostra, meaning “our thing”. It is said that the men of the Italian mafia, those who are a part of Cosa Nostra and daily risk their lives for their families, do not feel the need to name their organization anything. The Sicilians, those who were not a part of the Cosa Nostra, believed that the men were role models and protectors. Several men and women referred to the Cosa Nostra as honorable, noble and generous. 

In the late-19th century, it began to spread to the United States, mostly towards the East Coast region. New York became one of the capitalist states in the U.S. for the Italian mafia; the Bonanno family, the Colombo family, the Gambino family, the Genovese family, and the Lucchese family. The mafia continued to spread out through the United States to Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and several other places.

The Nigerian mafia presence in Italy, according to investigators, was first noticed in 2013 with an increase in violent assaults. Two years later, evidence emerged that the new group might be cooperating in the drug trade with Sicilian mafia: A taped conversation showed two Cosa Nostra higher-ups describing the Nigerians as “tough young’ uns” who are dangerous but know their place.

What has the Italian gotten out of this? The Godfather Trilogy.

South-American Drug Trafficking

Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia remain the most important cocaine-producing countries, but the business has now spread to most of South America. Central American and Caribbean nations are involved too, but primarily as transshipment and financial centers. From the thousands of peasant families who grow coca leaves to the few billionaire drug barons who direct much of the production, processing, and trafficking of cocaine, earnings wield enormous economic, social and political influence in Latin America. Apart from the corrupting power of such huge sums of narcodollars on police and judicial systems, Congressmen are elected with cocaine funds, banks are sustained or broken by trafficking groups and exchange rates fluctuate in sympathy with the state of the trade.

Again, these people have had many movies ‘glamorizing’ their crimes.

The problem now is that Nigerians are used as pawns in these crimes and I’m blaming it mostly on overpopulation and underemployment. Not that anybody needs an excuse to be a criminal.

Why Are Nigerians the Pawns for These Crimes?

I believe that the reasons are very similar to the reason why India is the center of the call center industry, for example.

The reasons are as follows:

  • Nigeria has a large pool of educated, unemployed people in desperate need of work and employed people who are not being paid enough.
  • Nigerians speak English, which is the main language of these frauds.
  • Nigerians are hard-working. I have been the company of some fraudsters in the past and was shocked at how difficult it is and how long it takes for one ‘operation’ to click. 
  • Nigeria got a headstart in the business. As pointed out by some experts, the snail mail scams started out in Nigeria in the 1990s, enabling Nigerian criminals to build a wealth of experience in the field.
  • There is a low barrier to entry. All you need to get an apprenticeship in the business is some education and a willingness to work. The risks are also minimal; unlike other criminal practices, you are unlikely to be shot or imprisoned or put in any danger at all.
  • Finally, young Nigerian criminals have role models. Why do Kenyans become long-distance runners? One reason is that they can see other people who have made a success out of their lives by doing so. Young, unemployed Nigerians now have rich, criminal role models to look up to.

I’m not saying Nigerian crime shouldn’t be condemned, but we shouldn’t be made to look like that’s all our Nation is known for. What do you think is the reason Nigerian fraud is more criminalized than the crimes of other nations?

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