Nigeria is undertaking a huge crackdown on internet scammers in a plan to take the country out of the world’s top ten for online scams.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is hoping to crack down on predominantly email based scams that have become synonymously linked with Nigeria. In particular, so-called “advance fee fraud” scams informing potential victims of fake lottery wins or royalties for looking after financial transactions have become renowned as originating from the North African country, earning them the name of “419” scams – the penal code used to describe the scams under Nigerian law.

Under the new scheme, dubbed “Operation Eagle Claw”, emails will be scanned in an attempt to highlight suspicious messages and, where appropriate, identify the source of the message. So far, 18 “syndicates” have been arrested and around 800 websites shut down.

“We expect that Eagle Claw as conceived will be 100% operational within six months and at full capacity, it will take Nigeria out of the top 10 list of countries with the highest incidence of fraudulent e-mails,” Farida Waziri, chairman of the anti-scam force, was reported as saying by The Register in Las Vegas.

“When it is fully deployed, it will afford the EFCC the option of either monitoring or shutting down all fraudulent email addresses. The EFCC would also have identified victims and potential victims and advised them that their email has been compromised.”

Internet users are also being urged to take steps to ensure that they do not fall prey to phishing scams. Most forms of antivirus software now include email scanning to block spam and potential phishing scams whilst users should remain sceptical over offers of money or financial incentives, or requests for security details via email.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.

If you want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, please submit the form below.