According to the United Nations, Africa has received roughly $50 billion in remittances from diaspora members annually since the year 2000. This means that any Nigerian scammer looking to con big bucks out of ignorant foreigners can have his pick of victims from the massive pool of Nigerians living abroad. One Nigerian con artist, who went by the name Ephraim Igwe, took advantage of this fact, scamming over $4 million from well-meaning foreign businesspeople who wanted to use an airport he claimed to own and run as a hub for their operations in Nigeria and West Africa.
A detailed list of all the people involved in the scam
So, let’s start with Adekunle Omoniyi and his co-scammers. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) just announced that three Nigerian men have been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy for their involvement in one of several Nigerian prince email scams that seem to be sweeping through inboxes. According to CNN , over six million people receive these emails every year, though most don’t fall victim to them. If convicted, however, Omoniyi could face up to 30 years in prison and be fined up to $1 million.
How it worked
In 2009, 51-year-old Olajide Onikoyi pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges. He admitted to being a middleman in an elaborate scam where he convinced people he could obtain large plots of land from government officials at significant discounts. In return, his victims would make down payments toward their investments and provide him with details about other potential investors. Eventually, he would use that information to defraud others and keep their money himself. Onikoyi used these funds to purchase items like real estate and high-end automobiles such as Bentleys, Mercedes Benzs, Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Lamborghinis – all while claiming to be involved in legitimate deals with local politicians who wanted to steal government lands at $1000 per acre.
What happened afterwards
When Anas got in touch with Adoboli, he told him that he worked for an investment company called Abuja Airports. He said he’d recently obtained $1.5 million from Abuja city officials to build an airport and needed assistance funding it.
The current status of the case
The government of Nigeria is being asked to pay $226 million because it improperly seized an abandoned airport from a British investor. Royal Bancshares, an investment group that specializes in buying and rehabilitating airports around West Africa, has had its investments stymied in Nigeria because of ongoing legal troubles. Its latest setback happened last month when a court ordered that all of its property be handed over to Nigerian authorities. The dispute stems from 2014 when Royal Bancshares purchased Abuja Airport, which was shut down by Nigerians concerned about corruption at air traffic control towers. The government re-opened Abuja later that year and notified Royal Bancshares’ shareholders they were no longer welcome as business partners in Nigeria.