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Police bust Nigerian dating fraud network in Germany: 11 suspects detained

Germany arrests Nigerian scammers. German police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested eleven suspected members of a criminal syndicate from Nigeria known as the Black Axe during nationwide raids.

The suspected group members used fake online identities to deceive victims into believing they were trustworthy and seeking marriage, then extorted money from them. They are Nigerian individuals who have resided in Germany for an extended period.
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The gang is internationally known for various criminal activities such as human trafficking, fraud, prostitution, and drug trafficking. In Germany, they were particularly focused on large-scale dating scams and money laundering.

Who is behind the ‘broken hearts’ scam?

The police raids targeted 19 properties, including homes and refugee shelters. All eleven suspects are Nigerian citizens, with most of them residing in Germany for many years. The alleged gang members range in age from 29 to 53.

The criminal gang Black Axe, estimated at around 30,000 members worldwide, disguises its activities under the guise of charity and operates as part of the Neo Black Movement of Africa. Police reports indicate that Black Axe wields significant influence in Nigerian politics and public administration.
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What were the methods of the fraudsters?

The police described the deception schemes used by the scammers as a “modern form of marriage fraud.” The fraudsters operated by creating fake profiles on social networks and dating platforms to gain the trust of victims, promising marriage after requesting money. They transferred the money obtained from victims to the Black Axe group in Nigeria “via financial agents,” according to authorities.

In the Bavarian region of Germany in 2023 alone, there were 450 dating scams, resulting in victims losing about 5.3 million euros ($5.7 million).