Thursday, November 1, 2012
African scammers arrested in Russia
According to Russian International News Agency (RIA Novosti), nine citizens of Cameroon and Nigeria resident in Russia have been detained in Russia on suspicion of using the names of Russian state-owned companies to swindle at least 900 million rubles ($28.8 million) from hundreds of firms in the European Union, United States and Southeast Asia. Russian law enforcement agencies reportedly believe that the actions of the West Africans involved in the scam damaged Russia's international trade relations.
The actions of the suspects also damage the reputation of Russia and more importantly - the reputation of their countries of origin - Cameroon and Nigeria. Such fraudulent actions could go a long way to hurt the developing economies of the two West African nations by scaring aware foreign entrepreneurs who want to do genuine business.
As an Africans and Cameroonian, this is embarrassing news but it should not be swept under the rug. I have no illusion that every African or Cameroonian or Nigerian agrees with me. There're those who think that such stories about the continent should not be highlighted by fellow Africans. Some argue that we should not air our dirty linen in public.
However, we can't sweep embarrassing stories under the rug and hope that they'll somehow go away. In order to redress a problem, it must be discussed. It's time we start having open, sincere discussions about the rogue actions of a few people and how such actions adversely affect us all. We must [publicly] condemn scamming thereby sending a clear message to scammers or prospective scammers that extortion is unacceptable. ourselves from such actions and seize every opportunity to highlight the fact that groups of people such not be judged by the actions of a few.
The suspects arrested in Russia reportedly face up to 10 years in prison and fines if found guilty.
I welcome the arrests. The culprits should bear the full weight of the law if found guilty. The governments of Cameroon and Nigeria should see this as an opportunity to take a tough stand against scamming.
Their actions are theirs alone and should not be used against innocent people from the region.
*Photo: Moonwell Photography.