German police arrest 11 Nigerians for dating scam and money laundering

German police have arrested 11 Nigerian nationals suspected to be members of a black axe group behind a large-scale dating scam and money laundering.

The Bavarian police in a statement on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, said that the gang was involved internationally in “multiple areas of criminal activity” with a focus in Germany on dating scams and money laundering.

The Agency said the dating trick was a “modern form of marriage fraud”, adding that “using false identities, the fraudsters, for example, signaled their intention to marry and in the course of further contact repeatedly demand money under various pretexts,”

They further said that the money was subsequently transferred to a black axe in Nigeria “via financial agents.”

According to the authorities, in the process, the gang used a “commodity-based money laundering” scheme where products, often with a seeming “charitable purpose” were bought and delivered to Nigeria

The force also added that 450 cases of dating and love scams were reported in the Bavaria region in 2023 with the damages rising to 5.3 million euros ($ 5.7 million).

The police said that the suspects, who all held Nigerian citizenship and were aged between 29 and 53, were arrested in nationwide raids on Tuesday, explaining that law enforcement agents swooped on 19 properties, including both homes and asylum shelters.

The Agency made it known that the black axe gang had “strict hierarchical structures under leadership in Nigeria” operating different territorial units, stressing that the group had a “significant influence” on politics and public administrations, in particular in Nigeria.

It was said that globally, the gang’s main areas of operation were “human trafficking, fraud, money-laundering, prostitution, and drug trafficking”

The police said that the action against the black axe was the first of its kind in Germany.