- A report has claimed that ‘London used phones’ sold in Nigeria are mostly stolen in the UK
- The report says that countries across Europe, the US and South America have signed a deal to blacklist stolen devices
- It states that stolen phone business is booming in Nigeria because the Nigerian government has not signed up to the global deal blacklisting stolen phones
According to an investigation by The Sun UK, the fairly used phones popularly referred to as ‘London-used’ that have flooded the Nigerian phone markets are mostly stolen from the UK.
The report claims that the proliferation of fairly used phones in Nigeria has a link with the increased rate of phone snatching in the United Kingdom.
According to the report, thugs who move around with motorised bicycles, also known as mopeds, often arm themselves with acid to scare victims and make away with their phones — iPhone users being the major victims.
“MOPED thugs are snatching tens of thousands of phones on UK streets to supply a booming black market run by crime lords in Nigeria,” the report states.
Between June 2016 and 2017, UK Metropolitan police reportedly recorded 16,158 phone crimes related to mopeds, three times more than the previous year’s record.
How the phone snatchers operate
According to the report, they travel in twos to a moped so the passenger can grab valuables as they pass a victim.
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The phones they grab are first plundered of data which is used to try to hack bank accounts.
They are then sold on in bulk to middle men who ship them to eastern Europe to be stripped of private information and reconditioned.
The phones are then moved on for sale — with Nigeria, Algeria and India the main markets.
Computer Village, Ikeja Lagos
The report specifically named Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos as being the receiving market where the UK stolen phones are sold.
At the popular Lagos market for phones and computers, the report says iPhones are on sale for £560, a price which is reportedly £310 cheaper than the authorised price.
The report read in part: “Sun investigators discovered ‘UK used’ iPhones being sold for £560 in stores and markets in Nigeria’s largest city Lagos. Business is booming for the Nigerian racketeers because of soaring demand from the oil-rich middle classes in a country where hi-tech gadgets are relatively scarce.”
However, Computer Village phone traders reportedly questioned during the investigation insisted their merchandise was from reputable sources.
A seller at Emeka Michael EB International Shop was quoted to have said: “Most of our phones are London used.”
Why the stolen phone business is booming in Nigeria
The report further claims that the stolen phones business is booming in Nigeria because the Nigerian government has not signed up to a deal prohibiting the sales of stolen phones across the world.
Another part of the report: “And because Nigeria has not signed up to a global deal blacklisting stolen phones, British moped gangs are able to keep the crime bosses supplied by exporting tens of thousands of snatched mobiles.
“Countries across Europe, the US and South America have signed a deal to effectively blacklist stolen devices. It gives each phone a unique number which is added to a global database when it is reported stolen — making it useless in those nations who are part of the agreement.
“But Nigeria is yet to sign up. And a mobile industry source said: “By staying off the blacklist they are creating the market for stolen mobile phones. If all nations stood together, a mobile would be useless once reported stolen. But countries like Nigeria are effectively inviting illicit imports.
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“A combination of corrupt officials, unscrupulous businesses and a booming demand for Western technology makes Nigeria an ideal place for handlers to send stolen handsets.”
Reacting to the report, a Lagos police spokesman was quoted to have said: “I am not aware that stolen phones from the UK end up in Lagos. If there is a complaint about a stolen phone in Lagos we shall investigate it.”
Meanwhile, in an earlier report by Legit.ng, an executive member of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW) Ajegunle Unit identified as Bamidele confessed that he purchased over 4,256 mobile phones from robbers, pickpockets and one-chance gang operating in Lagos state.
He equally confessed to the RRS Intelligence Team that he had over 52 boys in the state who steal and sell “clean phones” to him constantly.
Popularly known as “Elewure” in the social circle, Bamidele was arrested when the RRS Intelligence Team quizzed two stolen phones users in Kogi state in connection with abduction and robbery cases in Lagos state.
The operatives had upon returning from a week-long investigation in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kogi states, swung into actions by arresting Bamidele in his shop in Boundary Market, Ajegunle, after he was pointed to have been the seller of two Blackberry Z10 phones and a CAT phone collected from victims of robbery and abduction incidences in the metropolis.