Benin, West Africa is looking more and more like Nigeria ten years ago. Criminal operations in Cotonou, the nation’s capitol, are taking on the appearance of scam operations from Nigeria, and many in fact are modeled after Nigeria romance scams and advance fee fraud. Some private investigators and law enforcement officials say that Benin is destined to be the next Nigeria, a comparison that is by no means a good one. Benin private investigators say, more than ever, a background check or due diligence service is key to avoiding scams and fraud. It doesn’t take a fool to be a victim, investigators say. The crooks are good.
The response of many, is why should we be concerned about a small West Africa nation with little economic or political influence in today’s globalized world? The answer: globalization and the internet. In our wired global economy and connected world, ideas and communication moves freely across borders. Benin, like most nations, can’t simply be locked out. All countries and players are now on the same field. With access to the internet, criminals in Benin can easily target victims in the U.S., U.K., Australia or Canada on major match-making website and popular social networking sites. The Benin based criminals employ convincing tactics and effective scam techniques. Their methods are proven and even the most skeptical can fall victim to some of the best romance scam, advance fee fraud or identity theft criminals. The risk from Benin is real.
The French speaking nation of Benin is a country rich in potential and culture, and most of the citizens are honest and respectable people. The internet criminals operating from cyber cafes or workshop like hideouts with proxy servers are truly a few bad apples, and make the rest of the country look bad. Corruption remains a serious problem across West Africa, and law enforcement and government agencies are often inefficient and ill-equipped. It’s no wonder the criminals in West Africa feel they can get away with romance scams and internet fraud openly. Few people question or investigate the crime. The attitude is usually that people are doing what they have to to survive. This is a matter of debate, and of course the desperate economic conditions in West Africa have a direct correlation on criminal fraud and scam activity on the internet.
Economic and political uncertainty is nothing new, and the future is uncertain. What is clear, however, is that scam and fraud operations via the internet are booming here. It is easy money, say locals. Experts say to avoid the risk, a Benin background check or due diligence investigation can be an effective tool. Benin business contacts and personal relationships alike should be verified. Wymoo® International, a U.S.-based professional private investigation firm with field investigators in Benin, advises clients to verify first, and then decide. Avoid taking chances in Benin or West Africa. The risk for fraud is just too high.
All the best,
© 2011 S. Birch