Coronavirus: 1.5 million euro face masks fraud traced to Nigeria

Coronavirus: 1.5 million euro face masks fraud traced to Nigeria

- A monumental fraud to the tune of 1.5 million has been traced o Nigeria

- The fraud cuts across Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands

- It revolves around the sales of face masks for the battle against coronavirus

INTERPOL has claimed that a sophisticated fraud scheme involving sales of face masks has been traced to an account in Nigeria.

According to the international police organisation, the fraud cuts across Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

It said the suspects used a compromised email address linked to a legitimate company in Spain selling face masks and a fake website.

"The company initially claimed to have 10 million masks, only for the delivery to fall through. As consolation, they then referred the buyers to a ‘trusted’ dealer in Ireland. The Irish middleman promised to put them in touch with a different supplier, this time in the Netherlands.

"Claiming to have a strong commercial relationship with the company, the man provided assurances that the alleged Dutch company would be able to supply the 10 million face masks. An agreement for an initial delivery of 1.5 million masks was made, in exchange for an up-front payment of EUR 1.5 million."

INTERPOL reported that the buyers initiated a bank transfer to Ireland and prepared for delivery, which involved 52 lorries and a police escort to transport the masks from a warehouse in the Netherlands to the final destination in Germany

Going further, it reported that just before the delivery date, the buyers were informed that the funds had not been received and that an emergency transfer of EUR 880,000 straight to the Dutch supplier was required to secure the merchandise.

"When the buyers realized they had been duped, they immediately contacted their bank in Germany, which in turn contacted INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes unit, setting off a race to intercept the funds and follow the money trail.

"The Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service quickly tracked down the EUR 880,000 which had been transferred from the German company. Nearly EUR 500,000 of those funds had already been sent to the United Kingdom, all of which was destined for an account in Nigeria," INTERPOL added in its report.

Meanwhile, had reported that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu has enjoined members of the public to remain vigilant and take precautionary actions against new criminal trends.

The police boss said criminal elements might explore the emergency situation created by the coronavirus pandemic to increase and diversify their criminal activities.

A statement signed by the police spokesperson Frank Mba and made available to on Sunday, March 29, indicates that the IGP’s advice is informed by the intelligence which suggests that fraud and cybercrime are expected to rise following the lockdown emplaced by the state governments over Covid-19.

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According to the statement, intelligence obtained from the INTERPOL Headquarters shows that scammers in Nigeria and other parts of the globe have begun to create and set up fraudulent websites, e-commerce platforms, fake social media accounts and emails claiming to sell and deliver Covid-19 medical products. gathered some of the scammers use the names of prominent companies involved in the production and distribution of Covid-19 items while they ask their victims to pay via bank transfer. ( -> Same great journalism, upgraded for better service!

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