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Black Axe: German Police Arrest Suspected Members of Nigerian Dating Mafia

The Black Axe gang was involved internationally in “multiple areas of criminal activity”, with a focus in Germany on romance scams and money-laundering,

German law enforcement on Wednesday arrested 11 members suspected of being part of a gang of scammers from Nigeria, called the Black Axe.

Those arrested were between the ages of 29 and 53 and happened to have lived in Germany for years.

The Black Axe gang was involved internationally in “multiple areas of criminal activity”, with a focus in Germany on romance scams and money-laundering, Bavarian police said in a statement.

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German authorities said the group is alleged to have used a dating trick that police described as a “modern form of marriage fraud” which is said to have accounted for some 450 cases of romance scamming reported in the German region of Bavaria in 2023 alone.

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“Using false identities, the fraudsters for example signalled their intention to marry and in the course of further contact repeatedly demand money under various pretexts,” police said.

The money was subsequently transferred to Black Axe in Nigeria “via financial agents”, authorities said.

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In the process, the gang used a “commodity-based money laundering” scheme where products, often with a seeming “charitable purpose” were bought and delivered to Nigeria.

In Nigeria, Black Axe is more of a secret society infamous for extreme violence. The group was founded some 40 years ago in Benin City, Nigeria’s Edo State.

“Images of those who cross their path – dead bodies mutilated or showing signs of torture – regularly surface on Nigerian social media,” a BBC Eye investigation in 2021 into the group’s activities detailed. That investigation also unearthed evidence that the group had infiltrated Nigerian politics and public administration.

According to German authorities, the group operated under the cover of the Neo-Black Movement of Africa, a charitable organisation used as “camouflage” for the gang’s structures.

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