Nigerian gangs make millions from stolen phones in UK


Nigerian crime lords are making millions from mobile phones stolen on the streets of Britain by gangs.

Mobile phones snatched from pedestrians are advertised as ‘UK used’ iPhones for sale in Lagos, where they are sold at knockdown prices.

Nigeria has not signed up to a global deal blacklisting stolen phones so gangs are continuing to supply tens of thousands of phones to crime bosses in Nigeria.

The phones they steal are first stripped of their data, which is used by gangs to try and hack bank accounts.

They are then sold in bulk to middlemen who ship them to eastern Europe where technology experts working for criminal gangs steal users’ private information. The phones are then finally sold to crime lords in Nigeria, as well as Algeria and India.

An investigation by The Sun UK found stolen iPhones from the UK being sold in Computer Village, Ikeja for £560. One store offered an ‘UK used’ iPhone 6 for £230.

The Sun’s investigation highlights that there are still parts of the world where stolen phones can be unblocked and sold on.

All that is required is a new SIM card — and away you go. A combination of corrupt officials, unscrupulous businesses and a booming demand for Western technology makes Nigeria an ideal place for handlers to send stolen handsets.

Conservative MP Andrew Percy told the newspaper: ‘It is truly shocking to think that violent attacks here in the UK are being used to make black marketeers in other parts of the world wealthy.’

A Lagos police spokesman said: ‘I am not aware that stolen phones from the UK end up in Lagos. If there is a complaint about a stolen phone in Lagos we shall investigate it.’

An explosive documentary earlier this year showed criminals boasting to a BBC journalist of stealing thousands of pounds worth of mobile phones, tablet computers and bags and carrying out smash-and-grab raids on street jewellers.

One of the gang, a 21-year-old known as Mr X who wore a skull mask, bragged about being able to snatch three smartphones in 20 seconds, comparing it to ‘stealing candy from a baby’.

Mr X, a phone snatcher who claims to live in Islington, North London, boasted about stealing hundreds of devices over the past seven years.

On the documentary, Mr X took four phones to a buyer, who paid between £70 and £250 for each of them. The buyer then took them to Nigeria, where they fetch even more.

In 2016, there were 446,000 UK phone thefts. In London alone there were 60,000 mobile thefts and robberies, almost two-thirds of them iPhones.

In the 12 months to June 2017, Scotland Yard recorded 16,158 phone crimes related to mopeds, more than three times those reported in the year to June 2016.

Many phones are stolen by ruthless moped gangs who use acid, swords and baseball bats to rob pedestrians.

There were more than 23,000 motorcycle crimes in London last year – an average of 63 a day. Moped crime shot up 2,100 per cent in the city’s most famous shopping thoroughfare, Oxford Street.

In November last year, the Met unveiled new lighter, faster motorcycles that officers will use to pursue the gangs on mopeds.