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Germany arrests suspected members of Nigerian dating mafia

April 24, 2024

The alleged gang members, using fake identities online, extorted money from victims after gaining their trust and promising marriage. The suspected criminals were Nigerians who had lived in Germany for many years.

Black Axe paraphernalia seized by police in Bavaria, as pictured on April 24, 2024
German police seized paraphernalia belonging to the Black Axe gang after the raidsImage: Britta Schultejans/dpa/picture alliance

German police on Wednesday announced that eleven suspected members of a criminal syndicate from Nigeria, the Black Axe, were arrested during nationwide raids

The gang is internationally famous for different criminal activities such as "human-trafficking, fraud, prostitution and drug-trafficking."

In Germany they were focusing especially on large-scale dating scams and money laundering.

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The police raids targeted 19 properties in total, including both homes and refugee shelters.

All eleven suspects are Nigerian citizens but most of them have been in Germany for many years. The alleged gang members are between the ages of 29 and 53.

The criminal gang Black Axe, whose members are estimated at around 30,000 worldwide, is reported to "camouflage" their activity disguised as charity.  They operate under the auspices of the Neo Black Movement of Africa.

According to police, Black Axe has a strong influence on Nigerian politics and public administration.

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What were the methods of the fraudsters?

The police said the deception schemes used by the scammers amount to a "modern form of marriage fraud."

The fraudsters created fake profiles on social networks and dating platforms where they gained the trust of victims and promised marriage after requesting money. The fraudsters transferred money from fraudsters to Black Axe in Nigeria "via financial agents," authorities said.

In the German region of Bavaria in 2023 alone there have been 450 dating scams and the victims lost about 5.3 million euros ($5.7 million).

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ac/wd (AFP, dpa)

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