Barely has a month passed in 2020, that we haven’t received some report of a Nigerian fraud syndicate being exposed for their crimes. News of Nigerians being caught up in cybercrime and fraud-related activities have become so commonplace, we barely register it when it pops up, our conversations shifting instead to what exactly the group in question must have done to get the chop. Yet again, another account of ‘6 Nigerians’ and fraud has hit the internet, but this time Nigerians are calling foul play.
Barely two days ago, it was revealed in a fast-paced Dubai crime investigation documentary tagged “Fox Hunt 2“, the investigation and arrest of popular Nigerian socialite, Hushpuppi, for fraud amounting to 1.6 billion dirhams (N168bn). Long in the making, Hushpuppi’s downfall was largely seen as inevitable comeuppance for the fraudster, who flaunted his wealth, insulted hardworking citizens and schmoozed with celebrities and politicians.
However, on Friday night, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation tweeted out an announcement asking for help to find six Nigerian nationals wanted for their involvement in cybercrime-related fraud resulting in over $6million loss. The tweet further details a link to read more about the defendants and a subsequent link for people to submit tips.
Help the #FBI find six Nigerian nationals wanted for their involvement in business email compromise (BEC) schemes resulting in over $6 million in losses. Read more about each defendant at https://t.co/Q1OToaIVsl, and submit tips at https://t.co/iL7sD5efWD. #FugitiveFriday pic.twitter.com/67TZPHLgHA
— FBI (@FBI) June 27, 2020
Nigerians quickly called attention to the fact that there are 79 wanted men in this crime; 16 Russians, 20 Chinese, 37 Arabs and 6 Nigerians. They questioned why the organisation chose to place a spotlight on only the Nigerians involved.
I checked this list, there are 39 men of Arab origin, 16 Russians, 20 Chinese/Southeast Asian guys, and just 6 Nigerians.
But guess who FBI chose as the poster boys for this crime? The 6 Nigerians.
What "-ism" is this? https://t.co/VSDvG8ECDS
— Mayowa (@Mayoveli) June 27, 2020
Many posited that this purposive framing was done to fit a racial narrative and this would only continue to hurt Nigeria’s reputation.
This is a deliberate attempt to make Nigeria look bad as many people won’t even read the Article
— DANNY 👑 (@Danny_Walterr) June 27, 2020
This issue of 6 Nigerians FBI used as poster for their wanted list just another example of how we have been helping them dent our own country image… They know we will help them scream it loud more than them..
This will continue to happen until we're tired and "fight" back. pic.twitter.com/s4QUtlXUGu
— 👨🏽 King One X 🇳🇬 🙌🏽 (@MrOneXMind) June 27, 2020
79 people in A cyber most wanted list … 6 Nigerians on the list, about 16 Russians and 20 Chinese on the list. Yet they decide to use Nigerians as the click bait, cox you people give them lotta importance. About time we start ingnoring these news.
— HRM Adewale (@Wharlay_Lee) June 27, 2020
They went further to state that this was evident racism; declaring that the Nigerians were put front and centre in the post as click-bait and to draw in more attention.
— Anonymous 🇳🇬 (@zlatanbenjamin) June 27, 2020
Why is Nigeria the subject of this tweet? You have over 70 people on the wanted list with just 6 Nigerians why is the concentration on the 6 Nigerians? This is a very bias tweet, @FBI. https://t.co/Lixa2J7T3b
— Olúyẹmí Fásípè 🇳🇬 (@YemieFASH) June 27, 2020
Some posited that it is no surprise the organisation would use the Nigerians as the poster head for crime-related activities; due to the longstanding history Nigerians at home and abroad have with being arrested for fraudulent related activities.
Hushpuppi who's one of the key players
for Gucci FC has been nabbed in Dubai
for his involvement in match fixing that
saw 1.9m people lose their money
You can't expect these 6 Nigerians
that are the new guys in the club
not to be making the headlines
Our image is almost dead
— I Z U (@heisizumichaels) June 27, 2020
It goes without saying that Nigerians are wary of having the country and its citizens be recognized for fraud and cybercrime and are calling for an urgent repair of the nation’s image.
Toluwanimi Onakoya is a spirited writer, creative and videographer. Her biggest drive is to connect with people and depict tales using various forms of media.
Toluwanimi is available on Instagram and Twitter @nimi_onaks