Benin: US 'internet scam victim' freed by police

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Nigerian internet scammers are starting to move to Benin, experts say

A US national kidnapped last week in Benin has been freed by security forces and two of his Nigerian abductors arrested, an official has said.

The man, who has not been identified, is believed to have travelled to the West African nation after reportedly being targeted by cybercriminals.

His kidnappers forced him to contact his family for a ransom, police said.

In recent years, there have been a number of foreigners held for ransom in West Africa after internet scams.

Correspondents say they often fall victim to promises of lucrative business opportunities.

Such kidnappings are rare in Benin, but there have been several cases in neighbouring Nigeria.

Pierre Dovonou, an expert on cybercrime based in Benin, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that, as a result of a Nigerian police crackdown on internet fraudsters, many had crossed over the border and were working from the former French colony.

"The kidnapped American has just been found in [the south-west] Mono region and two of his kidnappers, Nigerians, were arrested and are in the hands of the police in Benin," a spokesperson for Benin's interior ministry, Franck Kinninvo, told the AFP news agency.

"He was found with the combined efforts of the FBI and Benin police," Mr Kinninvo said.

The details of the case are unclear, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Nigeria said, AFP reports.

Security sources told Reuters news agency that the man had travelled to Benin to meet up with a group of people from that country and neighbouring Nigeria that he had met on the internet.

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