Kerala becomes a cash cow for Nigerian scammers, drug gangs


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Kochi: Kerala has become a favourite breeding ground for Nigerian cyber fraudsters and drug peddlers. Nigerian citizens residing in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Goa, and Delhi exhort around Rs 300 crore every year, as per estimates of the cyber police. Recently, around Rs 1.17 crore was swindled in a cyber fraud case in Thiruvananthapuram.

However, only a few victims come forward to complain about it. Around 100 cases were registered last year linked to Nigerian nationals.

The gangs arrive in India through business or student visas. However, they continue to remain in the country even after the expiry of their visa. Since they are unable to start a bank account in India, they pay a small sum and 'buy' bank accounts from commoners in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The money swindled through cyber fraud will be transferred to banks in Nigeria through these accounts. By the time police register a case and start an investigation, the money will be long gone. They use foreign IP addresses to evade police.

Other than cyber fraud, people are cheated by promising jobs abroad, gifts, and other means.

Meanwhile, police have also identified that Nigerian citizens are behind the production and distribution of highly potent MDMA drugs in the country. Further, the gangs use Malayali youngsters as agents to deliver the drug in the retail market.

Meanwhile, Nigerian national Yukama Emmanuela Omidu, nabbed by police from Delhi in a drug case, was brought to Kerala on Monday. Earlier, the drug gangs in Delhi had put pressure to avoid customs taking her into custody. Large-scale security was ensured to move her to Ernakulam district jail.

Emmanuela Omidu is an accused in the case related to seizure of 18 kg of MDMA drugs from Kochi International Airport. The drug was seized from Muraleedharan, a Palakkad native who arrived from Zimbabwe via Doha. She was nabbed by the customs officials while waiting in a Delhi hotel to collect the drugs from Muraleedharan.

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