Despite massive counterfeiting of U.S. currency and checks in Nigeria, the American law enforcement agency with principal jurisdiction, the Secret Service, has closed its office in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian officials said the decision has hurt efforts to crack down on criminal rings that produce the counterfeit currency and cheat thousands of Americans with online scams.
Check out video on how to spot counterfeit check scams. "It’s something that I find difficult to understand," said Ibrahim Lamorde, who heads the Lagos office of the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Churches, Ministers Targeted by Nigerian E-mail Scammers Video Scamming the Scam Artists Click Here to Check Out the Brian Ross Investigates Webcast: On the Trail of the Nigerian Scammers Lamorde says Nigeria has become a center of high quality counterfeit currency, postal money orders and bank checks. "They need an office here," said Lamorde, who praised the FBI which continues to maintain an office in Lagos. Click Here for the Brian Ross Investigative Homepage.
Nigerian investigators say they were told the Secret Service agents found the living conditions in the impoverished city of Lagos too difficult. "The decision on any of our overseas staffing is based on operational demands and investigative priorities," a spokesman at Secret Service headquarters in Washington said. With their agents now stationed in Pretoria, South Africa, a short flight away, the spokesman maintained, "We are comfortable with our efforts in that part of the world." But Nigerian officials said the decision makes no sense if the Secret Service wants to maximize opportunities to stop the counterfeit scams. "There is no way you can talk about issues of counterfeiting and financial crimes without being in Nigeria," said Lamorde. "I think they need to have a rethink," he said.