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NFIU Alerts Banks, Others As ‘Scammers’ Devise New Method To Claim Funds From Abroad

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has issued a warning regarding scams involving tracing and recovering digital wire transfers from international banks into local accounts.

In a June 2024 report, the NFIU mentioned its dedication to offering prompt advice or guidance to its partners using a method grounded in real-life examples.

The agency’s report offers detailed insights into the latest trends, recurring patterns, questionable behaviours, and techniques aimed at taking advantage of the financial system for illegal and fraudulent purposes.

The NFIU indicated that its research points to a growing problem of fraudulent petitions that target the tracing and recovery of funds supposedly sent from foreign banks to local ones.

This issue, it said, poses a significant risk to the intended victims, Financial Institutions, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), and other governmental bodies.

“This advisory became necessary due to numerous petitions received by the NFIU from financial institutions, government agencies, and other third parties seeking assistance towards the tracing and recovery of funds transferred from foreign entities to their business partners in Nigeria.

The advisory aims to draw the attention of relevant stakeholders and the general public to the red flags as well as the emerging trends that have been observed, most especially the use of forged documents by fraudsters to defraud unsuspecting members of the public,” the NFIU report stated.

The agency reported receiving numerous false petitions, including one where a law firm represented a non-governmental organization (NGO) and requested the NFIU and other related authorities to locate and reclaim €30 billion (Thirty Billion Euros) that had been moved from an international bank to a Nigerian bank, alleging that the funds were frozen by a Nigerian financial institution.

According to NFIU, the NGO intended to use the funds for investments in the property sector.

The NFIU also mentioned that a law firm had submitted a petition on behalf of its client to trace and recover €6 billion (Six Billion Euros) that had been transferred from international banks to the client’s Nigerian bank account.

In response, the NFIU urged financial institutions and the public to remain cautious and to follow guidelines that would help protect crucial documents from being easily accessed to prevent their misuse in similar petitions.

It said, “The public should exercise some level of scepticism when dealing with telegraphic transfer documents from major European banks as nearly all frivolous claims emanate from same jurisdictions and banks abroad.”

In its recommendations to banks, NFIU said, “Upon receipt of a letter from a customer anticipating huge inflow, evidenced by the usual Telex copy, the financial institution should immediately conduct Enhanced Due Diligence, sufficient to establish authenticity or otherwise of the document presented.

“Where issues of forgery are suspected, the financial institution must take steps to quickly respond in writing to the letter from the customer, clearly stating the non-existence of such pending transaction of funds.

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This action must be taken immediately upon receipt of the complaint by the bank to avoid their use of the acknowledgement of the letters for fraudulent purposes.

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Financial Institutions are advised to immediately file Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on any entity or individual who presents such frivolous claims to the NFIU.”

It advised the public to be “Aware of the threat posed by fraudulent individuals and their fictitious telegraphic inflows whilst noting the listed red flags as well as the mode of operations contained in this document.

“The public must also take necessary steps geared towards scrutinizing potential business opportunities before committing financial resources.

The public should recognize the imminent risk of making investment on the strength of unverifiable Telex transfers presented by individuals to avoid being victims of fraudulent claims.”

NFIU listed red flags to watch out for as follows: “A large amount of funds transferred in a single transaction. Contradictions in the documentation such as an Arabic inscription ِب س )’ BismillahiMuhammadu’ instead of the investor’s signature.

No history of similar transactions in the accounts of individuals or entities involved.

Records of acknowledged copies of letters to deposit money banks and the CBN.

Newly incorporated companies expecting large amounts of foreign inflows/remittances.

Providing an acknowledged document from relevant agencies as legitimate transaction/approval documents to source for and receive foreign remittances/funds.

Presentation of Telex copies.

Absence of complaint from either the alleged foreign investors or the foreign banks.

Request seeking financial commitment from individuals in exchange for a fixed percentage of the expected funds.

Request for a law firm to offer legal service in exchange for a fixed percentage of the alleged inflow.”

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