March 28, 2024

“Honey, i don’t know how you will take this,” began one alleged scam message.

Eight Nigerians have been charged in the U.S. with running widespread internet scams for at least a decade from their base of operation in Cape Town, South Africa, federal prosecutors in New Jersey announced Wednesday.

The suspects, who were arrested in Cape Town and are awaiting extradition, have suspected ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate originating in Nigeria known as Black Axe.

From 2011 through 2021 the defendants allegedly ran schemes that involved their telling victims in the United States false narratives about traveling to South Africa for work and needing money after a series of unfortunate and unforeseen events, according to the indictment.

Other Americans fell victim to the defendants’ romance scams, believing they were in romantic relationships with someone using an alias and, when requested, the victims sent money and items of value to South Africa, the indictment said.

“The Co-conspirators often used aliases not only of the purported love interest of a victim, but also of other people involved in that person’s life, including a purported child, a business partner, or a friend, to bolster the perceived legitimacy of the stories portrayed, as a part of the Romance Scam or Advance Fee Scheme and to further induce the victims to send money on behalf of the purported love interest,”…

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