Dozens arrested over money-transfer scams

Stock image shows bundles of US dollars
Getty Images
Money-transfer scams have netted fraudsters millions, the FBI says

Police in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya have arrested dozens of people suspected of carrying out large-scale money-transfer scams.

The scams involve tricking victims into wiring money to bank accounts controlled by fraudsters.

More than 250 people were arrested in 10 countries. Police also conducted raids in the US, UK, Turkey, France, Italy, Japan and Malaysia.

Of those arrested, 167 were from Nigeria.

The FBI coordinated the raids over a period of several months. They targeted groups of people suspected of stealing millions of pounds from companies and individuals.

Almost $3.7m (£3m) in cash was seized during the raids. Evidence gathered from the operation should also lead to another $118m being seized, the FBI said.

Ibrahim Magu, who chairs Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, told the TodayNG news website that the action was part of a larger effort against groups of suspected tech-savvy criminals called Yahoo boys.

Mr Magu said the raids had led to the seizure of "exotic cars [and] plots of land in choice areas in Lagos and a property in Abuja".

The FBI has urged anyone handling money transfer requests that arrive by email to take extra time to verify the identity of the sender.

Read more about the raids here.

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Ghana to give guns to police officers

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Ghanaian police officers pictured in 2013.
It follows a spate of attacks

Ghana's government has decided to arm all police officers on traffic duties after a spate of attacks.

Five officers have been killed in the past month - including two on Wednesday when criminals opened fire on two officers after refusing to stop their vehicle.

The Ghanaian government is providing thousands of bullet proof vests and is importing weapons for the police.

Interior Minister Ambrose Dery said the new equipment would enable the police to fight violent crime and defend themselves.

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UK warships to patrol dangerous West African waters

Thomas Naadi

BBC Africa, Accra

British frigate HMS Portland (L) and the Ghanaian GNS Garinga in the Gulf of Guinea, off Tema harbour near Accra - 2014
The patrols hope to safeguard shipping routes in the Gulf of Guinea

British warships are expected to patrol the Gulf of Guinea before the end of the year, according to UK Armed Forces Mark Lancaster, who is on a three-day visit to Ghana.

He said that the fleet would join forces with members of the regional bloc Ecowas to combat growing insecurity off the West African coast - considered one of the most dangerous stretches of water anywhere in the world.

His announcement comes in the wake of the recent kidnapping of 10 Turkish sailor off the coast of Nigeria.

Mr Lancaster told the BBC that the UK government was exploring other ways of collaborating with West African countries to address growing insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

It’s in UK’s national interest that we continue to provide security, maritime security in this part of the world to ensure safe passage of ships, to fight for international trade to be able to navigate through this part of the world without undue interruption."

During his visit, the minister went to the Ecowas maritime co-ordination centre, which receives support from the British government.

Last month, some Ecowas member states signed an agreement allowing them to join forces to combat activities like piracy, the growing illicit trade in fuel and illegal fishing.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 73% of all sea kidnappings and 92% of hostage-takings occur in the region off Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

Most of the attacks have been against ships involved in oil and gas transportation.

Ghana wins the jollof wars ... for now

Thomas Naadi

BBC Africa, Accra

The endless debate between Ghanians and Nigerians over who makes the best jollof has been settled - for now at least - by a cooking contest held in Accra.

Sika Mortoo, 24, beat her Nigerian counterpart, Chef Turay, to emerge the winner of the Onga Ghana Jollof Battle on Saturday.

She received $2,000 (£1,600) while Chef Turay was given $1,000 for her efforts by Promasidor, the private firm which organised the contest.

Here's the winner posing with her cheque:

Sika Mortoo poses with her cheque
Thomas Naadi/ BBC

Fears over Ghana bank crackdown

Thomas Naadi

BBC Africa, Accra

A woman holds a fan of cedi notes in her hand.
About 70,000 savers are affected

Thousands of people in Ghana who deposited their money in some bank accounts are worried they'll never get it back, after 23 savings and loans companies had their licences removed in a crackdown by the country's central bank.

It says these companies are not fit for purpose because they don't have enough cash reserves to meet demand if lots of savers want to withdraw their money at once.

Some 70,000 people are affected, with as much as 9bn cedis ($1.6bn; £1.3bn) tied up.

Here's what one investor told the BBC anonymously:

When I heard the news I was really worried - I’m a single parent and my rent is due. Now that they have promised to pay, they should pay it quickly. I hustle under this scorching sun to make money, it’s not easy at all. I don’t think I will invest in any financial institution again."

The central bank, the Bank of Ghana, has pointed the finger at endemic mismanagement across the sector. But many say the central bank itself is to blame for not carrying out its supervisory role effectively.

Most small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on these institutions for their savings and business loans.