Last Thursday, Canadian press reported that local police in the Greater Toronto Area alleged two suspects, who happen to be Nigerian, sold fake airline tickets which summed up to over half a million dollars.
Investigators claimed that in the second half of 2021, the suspects purported themselves to be travel agents for UK-based companies and accessed a secure online booking portal for a prominent European carrier.
“It is alleged that these two individuals fraudulently sold valid flight tickets to unsuspecting customers and collected the payments to benefit themselves financially,” the Canadian police said in a public statement.
Consequently, the police urged the public to always verify the legitimacy of whatever travel website they were visiting.
The police added that most of the people who fell prey to the scam were in Calgary, one of the largest cities in Canada. The unsuspecting victims mostly purchased flights to Africa.
One of the suspects Adebowale Adiatu, a 32 year-old man from Vaughan, Ontario, was charged with Fraud Over $5,000, Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence, and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
The other suspect, Gbemisola Akinrinade, a 44-year old woman from Brampton, Ontario, had not yet been apprehended as of when the report was given. An arrest warrant has been issued for Akinrinade, for charges of Obtain by False Pretense, Unlawful Use of a Computer, Fraud Over $5,000, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence, and Fraud under $5,000.
If convicted of any or all of the charges, Adiatu and Akinrinde could both face 2-14 years in prison according to the Canadian Criminal Code.
The Nigerian String of Crimes in Canada
These cases are mere additions to a string of recent fraud cases related to Nigerians in the Great White North.
Also last Thursday, it was reported that Winnipeg-based Nigerian man Chinenye Alozie pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 2 years house arrest, as well as a $29,000 fine, for falsifying bank records and other required documents for visa applications into Canada.
Between 2014 and 2019, 35 year-old Alozie had reportedly dealt with over 60 foreigners, most of whom were students. He first caught the attention of the Canadian Border Services Agency in 2018, after he advertised his services to foreign students online.
Alozie’s bank records revealed deposits of $90,000 in 2016 and $120,000 in 2017 from people believed to be foreigners who sought his bogus immigration services.
“I was under a lot of pressure to lead people to success … and to achieve their goal. In the beginning I just helped my classmates, but when I successfully helped them, they told their friends and their brothers and the pressure built up,” Alozie said in court.
Before Alozie was Ayoola Ajibade, an Uber driver from Brampton, Ontario who defrauded the Town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia of almost $490,930.43 in April last year.
The amount was paid to his account after he posed as an executive with Dexter Construction and requested for payment via electronic transfer, rather than cheque. 53-year old Ajibade was sentenced to 3 years in prison, but only after the fraud went undetected for 6 weeks.
However, the Nigerian contribution to Canada has not just been crime. While the few notorious cases of criminal activity by Nigerians are quite prominent, it is inarguable that many Nigerians in Canada have boosted the Canadian economy and gone on to become respectable members of the society.
As of November 2022, Immigration Canada reported that over 42,000 Canadians of Nigerian descent called Canada home, and many more were to come. This number did not factor in the thousands of Nigerians who were working or studying in the North American country at the time. Nigeria was also said to be “the fourth largest source country of new immigrants to Canada”.
The larger proportion of Nigerians who move to Canada are highly skilled workers who are in search of better career opportunities. Thus, the Canadian pull—in terms of favorable immigration policies—has fueled the brain drain out of Nigeria.
Sources: The Punch, City News, Canada Today.