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Nigeria’s notorious scam industry has expanded overseas – with Nigerian conmen entering Malaysia on student visas to perpetrate fraud using the country’s fast connections and advanced banking system, and raking in millions of dollars.
Reuters reports that American women are being ensnared via dating websites, with scammers targeting older, lonely women and swindling them out of life savings. Some victims have lost up to $250,000.
Officials at the U.S. consulate say that complaints about such scams now make up 80% of inquiries to duty officers in Kuala Lumpur, according to Time’s report.
NDTV reports that Malaysian police issued statements in December 2013, claiming that internet fraud had doubled in 2013, with losses over $11 million. Local police claimed to have apprehended 478 Africans on suspicion of involvement in such scams.
One case earlier this year saw five African men in an alleged internet scam arrested in Malaysia’s Klang Valley, along with local accomplices who provided them with bank accounts.
Local news outlet The Star reported that police seized 14 bank account books, 21 ATM cards, 10 handphones and several other items.
“Our initial investigations revealed that all five of the Nigerian suspects were in Malaysia on student visas,” a police official told a press conference.
U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters, claim that Malaysian police lack the resources to deal with the broader problem, and that no case involving a U.S. victim has yet been successfully prosecuted.
“These are not rich widows who are being preyed on, these are middle-class Americans who don’t have this kind of money to spare, “Tim Scherer, U.S. consul general said, “It can really transform their lives in a very terrible way.”
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security