ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO TRAVEL TO
WEST AFRICA ON YOUR OWN?
Legitimate businessmen and guided tourists who travel to West Africa
either know the ropes or are under the protection of those who do.
This is not the case with the 419 victim.
Travel in West Africa - risky business
Please Note: There is little reason to avoid doing legitimate business in West Africa. On the contrary - many West African exports are noteworthy and worth the effort involved in trading with these countries.
The following warnings are listed for those who are intent on following up on a Nigerian Scam Letter, and therefore are placing themselves at great risk.
The following information has been culled from the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. I am providing a link to the information for each country, along with a brief of what you will find. For countries not listed here, merely click on the U.S. State Department link above.
Benin: "...Street crime, especially in Cotonou, continues to rise. Most robberies and muggings occur along the Marina Boulevard and the beach near the hotels frequented by international visitors. Some of the reported incidents involve the use of force, often by armed persons, with occasional minor injury to the victim. Isolated areas are best avoided... ...Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Benin. The scams pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. Recently, an increasing number of American citizens have been the targets of such scams..."
Burkina Faso: "Street crime in Burkina Faso poses high risks for visitors.. There has been an increase in armed robberies and attacks on the Fada-Kantchari Road...have injured and/or killed individuals who refuse their demands... ."
Côte d'Ivoire: "... An international health certificate showing current yellow fever and cholera immunizations is required for entry into Côte d'Ivoire. Otherwise, the traveler risks being subjected to inoculation at the point of entry, which is highly inadvisable. Inoculation against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and typhus are also recommended. Malaria prophylaxis is strongly advised... In an effort to prevent international child abduction... U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Côte d'Ivoire are urged to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times... bear in mind that violent demonstrations have occurred in Côte d'Ivoire in the past and that further unrest or military action could recur with little or no warning ..."
Nigeria: "...conditions pose considerable risks to travelers... Violent crime, committed by ordinary criminals, as well as by persons in police and military uniforms, can occur throughout the country. Kidnapping for ransom of persons associated with the petroleum sector, including U.S. citizens, remains common in the Niger Delta area... public transportation throughout Nigeria is dangerous and should be avoided... fraudulent or criminal operators and poorly maintained vehicles... Nigerian-based business, charity and other scams target foreigners worldwide and pose a danger of financial loss. Recipients pursuing such fraudulent offers risk physical harm if they come to Nigeria...ability of U.S. consuls to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals and their consequences is extremely limited... outbreaks of violence have occurred in the past year include the Lagos area...Visitors and resident Americans have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglary, kidnappings and extortion, often involving violence. Carjackings, roadblock robberies, and armed break-ins are common... Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications....
Crimes against property, such as carjacking, have often been accompanied by violent acts, including murder. South Africa also has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, but several have been the victims of rape. Victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical attention, including antiretroviral therapy against HIV/AIDS...
... assault and armed robbery, is particularly high in areas surrounding many hotels and public transportation centers, especially in major cities. Passports and other valuables are often stolen at airports. A number of Americans have been mugged or violently attacked on commuter and metro trains, especially between Johannesburg and Pretoria. ...
Credit card fraud, counterfeit U.S. currency, and various check-cashing scams are frequently reported. Do not accept "assistance" from anyone, or agree to assist others with ATM transactions. Also beware of fraudulent schemes in which a caller from South Africa (who usually is not South African) attempts to win the confidence of an unsuspecting American, who is then persuaded either to provide privileged financial information or travel to South Africa to assist in a supposedly lucrative business venture. Anyone receiving such a solicitation is urged to contact either the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing personal financial information or making any financial commitments.
To learn more about these and other countries, visit