Nigeria returns $15,000 to French love scam victim

A man pulls a cart full of scrap metal in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos. A large number of Internet love scams have originated in Nigeria.
A man pulls a cart full of scrap metal in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos. A large number of Internet love scams have originated in Nigeria.REUTERS

LAGOS (AFP) - Nigeria's anti-graft agency said Thursday it had returned €10,000 (S$15,000) to a French man who thought he met a beautiful Nigerian woman online willing to move to France... only to find out it was a scam.

The man, identified as Francois Mercade, "alleged that he met a Nigerian beauty by the name 'Kate Williams' on the Internet sometime in 2009 and they developed a relationship which was to culminate in marriage," the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said.

"'Williams' was to relocate to join Mercade in France, to consummate the relationship.

"'Williams', who purportedly did some jobs for an unnamed company in Nigeria, came up with a story that the company refused to pay 'her' for the job done."

The supposed wife-to-be told him that before she could relocate to France, she needed money to hire a lawyer to deal with her employer and to get travel documents, the EFCC said.

Eventually, Mercade wired €25,000 over to enable his beloved to join him, but soon realised he had been conned.

"Kate Williams" was none other than Omodara Adedapo Oluseye, a male student at a college of agriculture in southwestern Nigeria, the EFCC said.

He had an accomplice, and both have since been arrested and jailed for one year.

The EFCC, however, only recovered part of the money Mercade was deceived into paying and wired the €10,000 to the victim.

Internet love scams targeting gullible suitors in rich countries are common, and a large number of these have originated in Nigeria.