Senegal arrests Internet con men

De Master Yoda

From KENYA today.
DAKAR, Tuesday

Senegalese police have arrested a group of 23 Nigerians as they were trying to defraud money from people scattered all over the world using the Internet.

The group was operating from Parcelles Assainies, in the outskirts of the Senegalese capital where they have established their base.

The 23 people were arrested on the night of July 6 and 7 by the Criminal Investigations Division, a special branch of the Senegalese police, following complaints by victims “from all over the worldâ€, according to the Senegalese national daily Le Soleil.

Colonel Alioune Ndiaye, the spokesman of the police confirmed the arrests in a telephone interview.

One of the Nigerians, considered as the gang leader and whose identity has not been revealed, hired his other fellow countrymen to work for him.

Their only task was to spend time on the Internet looking for email addresses and sending fake e-mails, so as to lure potential victims into their trap.

At the time of their arrest, they were busy completing one “operation†in which a Canadian national, whose identity was not also revealed - had already agreed to transfer 2,000 euros (Sh212,000), to the group.

But “the police asked the bank to block the operationâ€, said Le Soleil.

Usually known as “419 scamâ€, or the “Nigerian scamâ€, has known a boom with the Internet.

The modus operandi is simple and been the subject of several reports and warnings: Potential investors or top executives are sent e-mails in which they are proposed either to help transfer huge amounts of money or to become investment partners in operations allegedly taking place somewhere in Africa.

The fraudsters use fake identities, forged documents and at times “beautiful ladies pictures†to show their victims. In the Dakar case, the police discovered stamped documents, allegedly authenticated by legal offices in Dakar.

“Most of the victims are from the West†according to the Senegalese daily citing police sources.

The police started monitoring the activities and movements of the Nigerians months back, after several complaints from victims were received either by the Senegalese police or by Senegalese diplomatic offices.

If convicted after their trial, the detainees, may face severe prison terms.

Senegal has just finished writing new laws against criminal activities linked to the Internet and the use of other Information and Communication Technology (ICTs).

Sentences can vary from one to seven years prison terms together with heavy fines, depending on the seriousness of the crime.