LAGOS, Nigeria – Authorities in Nigeria have arrested two suspects who are believed to be behind a huge fraud scheme which nearly saw German health authorities pay EUR 2.4 million for masks they never received.
In March 2020, as a number of countries were going into lockdown due to COVID-19, health authorities were desperate to purchase protective equipment for medical staff. They contracted a procurement company to find EUR 15 million worth of face masks.
Despite being experienced buyers, company representatives were hooked by fraudsters and led down a path of referrals, fake emails and websites, extra fees and ultimately, no masks.
Full story: Unmasked: International COVID-19 fraud exposed
In a case coordinated by INTERPOL, financial crime and intelligence units and banks across Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom raced against the clock to intercept a number of wire transfers and recover the down payments made to guarantee an initial shipment of masks.
Once the funds were secured, investigators continued working their way up the fraud scheme to dismantle the criminal group behind it.