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Source: Wisbar.Org

Whoops! What a fraud filled week we just got out from. We had news of fraudulent acts carried out by some Nigerians being flunged at us left, right and center. 

On the 16th of August, I came across the news on Twitter that the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had arrested the C.E.O of Invictus Group, Obinwanne ‘Invictus Obi’ Okeke for wire fraud worth $11 million. 
The suit and tie Yahoo boy who not only have a laptop but also a portfolio, packed full with achievements, was arrested after a 13-month investigation for committing wire fraud in the U.S. 

Invictus Obi who was profiled as a young up-and-coming Nigerian entrepreneur after being enlisted in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 lists, was also a guest on BBC’s ‘Focus on Africa’ talk show, a speaker at Yaba TedX in Lagos, Nigeria and so much more. But for a man that obviously had a lot going on for him, the portfolio was only a front. 

While Nigerians were still trying to grasp how he managed to pull off the $11 million fraud, we had more news coming at us. 

On the 21st of August, the news that the online sales platform, Jumia was facing internal breaches and fraud worth €16 million ($17.5 million) allegedly by its staff in Nigeria got out. 

On the 22nd of August, the United States Department of Justice also released a statement announcing that 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerians have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft which is seen as the “largest cases of its kind in US history.”

On the 24th of August, the Saudi Arabian Government in a statement announced that at least 23 Nigerians are on death roll in Saudi Arabia over drug-related offences.

In a country like ours, you are either involved in something ‘legit’ or not, but it’s quite unfortunate that we haven’t learnt how to separate the wheat from the shaft. But like my people would say - no dey write am for head - meaning they don’t write who you truly are or what you do on your forehead for the world to see. 

This reminds me of a song lyric; ‘when the bush meat go catch the hunter’, i.e the bushmeat that the hunter sets trap for would soon hunt down the hunter himself one day. Unfortunately this hunt down came after millions of dollars have been lost to this fraudsters. 

You must be wondering why Nigerians are always associated with the fraud. Just like Professor Biko Agozino of Virginia Tech University said; “there is a long-standing demonisation of Nigeria as being full of criminals.”
As clothes or shoes come with labels, the word ‘Nigeria’ or ‘Nigerians’ is now synonymous to scammers, fraudsters, Yahoo Yahoo, 419 and the list goes on and on. 

The term ‘419’ was actually coined from section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud. However, nowadays the term ‘419’ generally refers to a list of offences ranging from stealing, cheating, falsification, impersonation, counterfeiting, forgery to fraudulent representation of facts.

This, however, leaves a question hanging over our heads. How do you clear the names of those that are legit? How do you tell the world that you have no blood, sweat or spittle of another man’s hard work on your hands? 

There was a palliative attempt to salvage the whole fraud situation with the #NotAllOfUs that trended on Twitter as a way for people to declare that not all Nigerians are dubious or scammers. The idea was an impressive attempt however, it is only a palliative measure that cannot totally fix our image before others.

It is, however, necessary to constantly remind ourselves of who we are and what we stand, hoping that the result of our genuine hard work speaks for us one day.

By: A Ready Quill (#ARQ) 

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