Obinwanne Okeke aka ‘Invictus Obi is a Nigerian businessman was arrested by the FBI recently for fraud to the tune of $11 million.

According to Africa Facts Zone’s Twitter post, he was

a Forbes Contributor & a Young African Business Leader nominee. He was on BBC News Africa, CNBC Africa, London School of Economics Africa Summit and TEDxYABA.

posted by Africa Facts Zone on Twitter

“Yahoo Boys”, as Nigerian scammers are sometimes referred to, have a long history of scamming and are not a new phenomenon. Scammers are prevalent in most countries where poverty is a concern. Unfortunately they have evolved their practices and developed new ways to dupe unwitting companies into parting with large amounts of cash, in the region of billions of dollars as a matter of fact.

Through business email compromise scams (BEC), fraudsters use hacked email accounts to convince businesses or individuals to make payments that are either bogus or similar to actual payments owed to legitimate companies.

As part of the scam, fraudsters learn about key personnel in companies who are responsible for the payments as well as the protocols necessary to perform wire transfers in various companies and then target businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments, Paul Delacourt, FBI assistant director in charge of the case said in a press briefing.

The scams have become so rampant that in the first seven months of 2019 alone,  the FBI received nearly 14,000 complaints reporting BEC scams with a total loss of around $1.1 billion—a figure that nearly matches losses reported for all of 2018.

In another recent high profile case, following a 13-month long investigation, the FBI arrested Nigerian Obinwanne Okeke in an $11 million BEC fraud case. Before his arrest, Okeke had posed a successful entrepreneur and was featured on a Forbes 30-under-30 list as well a BBC Focus on Africa program.

This man had such a good reputation, he was inspiring entrepreneurs all over. Now he has worsened Nigeria’s already bad reputation even more.

Advanced tactics are being used but sometimes the simplest scams are the easiest, such as advance fee non delivery fraud. In a recent case brought to our attention one grocery store owner thought he was getting an excellent deal in the form of lower-than-market price for sugar beans (light red speckled kidney beans) or some other similar commodity, but instead found himself conned out of hundreds of thousands of Rands. Just have a look at the comments of this website alone to see how many people have become victims or come close.

We also get cases where fraudsters edit a PDF of a legitimate invoice from a credible known company. The accountant knows they are dealing with “XYZ Company” but when they see a bank account called “ABC Holdings” they think nothing of it because many companies have bank accounts in names different from those they trade in and will make payment no questions asked. Fortunately banks are starting to check names against account numbers to try prevent this. There are many cases where this could happen, such as when an agent resells product for a company – or claims to. It is so important for companies to clearly state who is authorized to represent them. Before making any payments, staff should make 100% sure they are making the payment into the correct bank account for new vendors.

For the record, Ethical Suppliers DOES NOT deal in commodities. We used to but stopped due to many factors. Now we encourage customers to purchase a Company Account which contains details of genuine commodity suppliers, farmers etc. Paying for this product has twofold benefits to us – we receive compensation to sustain this organization and it helps our suppliers enjoy better lead quality.

We have another type of fraud case where a company will edit a real product with a fake name and then send a request for a quote for that particular commodity. For example a while ago we received requests for some brand, AGZ Pyrethrum or something like that, and only one “supplier” had it in SA. This supplier was fake. So the business owner orders in the product from the fake supplier for the fake customer but doesn’t receive the product.

Contact us at if you need more information on how to protect yourself or if you are looking for genuine suppliers of commodities.

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