Criminals in Nigeria now prefer to use Ethereum and Bitcoin as a means of exchange, according to the chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Below are his exact quotes made as part of a speech at an international symposium on economic crime:
“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies, such as ransom money, for cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with bitcoin and ethereum as the most commonly used medium of these exchanges.”
– Chairman, EFCC Nigeria
In his speech, Bawa also indicated that economic crimes affect global economies and deprive developing nations of resources necessary for sustainable development.
Bawa also said that as victims continue to suffer from the effects of financial crimes, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system.
Being unregulated and requiring no physical bank vaults, cryptocurrencies provide an easy route for criminals to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes. There are also concerns about their security with many sophisticated fraudsters able to hack into digital vaults to steal assets from owners.
A recent report by Whitestream, a blockchain analysis firm based in Israel, referred to Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, as the hub for crypto scams in Africa.
The report analyzed 4 crypto scams emerging from the city, where scammers rely on Instagram to attract new users, luring them with flashy lifestyles, before convincing them to send cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
In February 2021, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) barred all regulated financial institutions in the country from transacting in cryptocurrencies citing a lack of proper regulation making them prone to financial crime.
Other than Nigeria, South Africa has witnessed mega crypto scams, such as the MTI scandal, which was by far the largest in the world in 2020 according to a Consensys report, together Africrypt, the crypto investment scheme which claimed it was hacked.
The respective prosecution of the high-profile scams in South Africa has found it hard to help victims recover their funds with the authorities now looking to enforce regulation to control such scams.
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