Nigerian scammer and airplanes at an airport

This Nigerian Scammer Sold a Fake Airport for £242 Million

The Nigerian scammer has now become such a cliche it makes you wonder sometimes: was that ever really a thing? We all know people try the Nigerian scam, but did it ever actually work?

It sure did!

Admittedly, the story of Emmanuel Nwude and the imaginary airport isn’t as simple as those emails you get from time to time asking for your bank details, but the essential elements – Nigeria and scamming – are present and correct.

Together with five slightly loyal accomplices, Nwude pulled off the impressive feat of impersonating the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria successfully enough to convince Nelson Sagakuchi, a director of the Brazilian bank Bacno Noroeste. He then convinced Sagakuchi to invest in a new airport in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. He asked for a $10 million commission for negotiating the investment, while Sagakuchi happily dreamed of the airport he’d one day own a slice of – so happily he forgot to ask to see the construction works or anything like that.

Amazingly, Nwude was caught – after the Brazilian bank noticed that half its capital was resting peacefully in the Cayman Islands. In total Noroeste lost $242 million from the scam, making it one of Nigeria’s most heroic ever and causing some serious questions to be asked about how quickly Sagakuchi was willing to cough up cash to anyone who came to him with a slick story about aeroplanes.

Nwude only spent a few years in jail for the fraud, but a decade later found himself back inside on charges of murder and terrorism. So it’s nice to see he’s keeping himself busy. If he never again reaches similar heights, he will always be a shining example to aspiring Nigerian scammers everywhere. Especially in Nigeria.


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Ben Pobjie

Ben Pobjie

Ben Pobjie is an accomplished author, commentator and columnist who specialises in studies of Australian history and culture. A prolific writer, Ben’s work has appeared The Age, New Matilda, King's Tribune, Crikey, The Roar, Meanjin, GQ, Mamamia, The Punch and many others. He also has several books to his name, having published titles Superchef, Surveying the Wreckage, and The Book of Bloke. Additionally, Ben’s work has spilled into the realm of television and comedy, writing for You Have Been Watching on Foxtel and The Unbelievable Truth on Channel Seven, with the media expert appearing frequently on ABC radio, Triple R, 3CR and 2SER.