HOW TO REPORT A SCAM IN CAMEROON
As a Cameroonian law firm of solicitors specializing in litigation, we often help overseas victims of internet fraud and email scams to recover monies that have been sent to bank accounts in Cameroon as a consequence of the fraud or scam.
Some common examples of online business frauds and internet crime that we deal with in Cameroon are:
- “Business Email Compromise” (also known as “CEO fraud”). In this scam, the fraudster imitates the CEO or high-level executive of a company and sends an email to the finance department manager of the company instructing them to make a payment, which appears legitimate, to the criminal’s bank account.
- “Invoice Fraud”. In this case, the fraudster imitates a real supplier to the company and misdirects payment for a genuine shipment into the criminal’s bank account. Often, the fraudster will create an email address which is very similar to the real supplier’s email address, with the difference becoming apparent only on close examination afterwards. For example, the fake email address will be identical except that it has one letter duplicated or an extra “dot” interposed in it.
- Another common type of scam involves the fraudster hacking the email account of a real employee and then issuing a request to customers to make payment for goods or services legitimately purchased into the criminal’s bank account.
Being an international financial services hub, Cameroon is a fertile environment for fake investment firms. Examples of bogus investment firms that we have encountered are a gold bullion buying business, which purported to buy gold and gold certificates, on behalf of clients – but didn’t even exist and was merely a website and nothing more; and a fake share brokerage firm which purported to buy and sell shares on behalf of clients – but which again, didn’t exist and was merely a website and nothing more.
Cameroon is also a popular destination for money that has been stolen through dating and romance scams. Scammers set up fake profiles on dating websites, social media sites, apps, classifieds, and online forums. After a connection is formed with the victim, the scammer persuades the victim to send money to Cameroon, using pretexts such as, for example, the scammer needs the money to complete a business deal or “save their business from ruin” or that the scammer will invest money for the victim in shares or some high-yield enterprise.
PROCEDURE TO REPORT A SCAM IN CAMEROON
To recover the monies, the victim will then need to instruct a Cameroon firm of solicitors to commence civil proceedings. (Indeed, after processing the complaint, the Cameroon Police will usually require a confirmation from the victim that he/she/it has instructed, or is going to instruct, a Cameroon firm of solicitors to commence civil proceedings to recover
Once the account has been frozen temporarily by the bank, as a result of receiving notification from the police, there is a window of opportunity for the victim to instruct a Cameroon solicitor’s firm to issue a writ in the Cameroon High Court an Injunction Order freezing the account. The Injunction Order will replace the bank’s internal administrative direction putting a stop to the account. The Injunction Order provides a much higher degree of protection for the victim because once an Injunction Order has been made, the bank certainly won’t deal with the account unless and until a further Court Order has been made permitting the movement of money out of the account.
In our experience, scammers usually ignore Court proceedings and once an Injunction Order has been obtained, the victim can obtain a default judgment and then uplift the funds from the frozen account using garnishee proceedings. If uncontested, the process takes about four to six months.
“It is extremely important for victims to make a complaint to the Cameroon Police as soon as they have reason to believe the stolen cash has been transferred into a bank account in Cameroon. Speedy action is the key to success.”
Victims need to make a complaint to the Cameroon Police (we can assist in drafting a complaint) as soon as they have reason to believe the stolen cash has been transferred into a bank account in Cameroon. Speedy action is the key to success. The sooner the complaint is made, the sooner the police will give notification to the bank and the bank will freeze the account, and the greater the chance the victim will “catch” the monies before they are shifted to another destination by the fraudster. If the victim can successfully catch the monies in the account, then there is a very good chance of making recovery through the Courts.
One common mistake made by victims of internet fraud is that they don’t make a complaint to the Cameroon Police as soon as they discover the monies were sent to an account in Cameroon instead, they make a complaint to the police in their home country and/or their bank in their home country. Whilst these steps are perfectly sensible and advisable, it is imperative that the victim also immediately makes a complaint to the Cameroon Police.
‘’The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. We insist specialist advice be sought depending on your specific circumstance’’
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