Nigerian police have arrested three members of a criminal gang accused of fleecing unsuspecting job seekers with a promise to recruit them into the navy, authorities said Tuesday.
Police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement that the three suspects, led by a dismissed navy staffer, were arrested last week in a hotel in the central town of Makurdi based on a tipoff.
"At the time of their arrest, 11 people already hoodwinked into believing they were on the verge of being recruited into the Nigerian navy were found with them," he said.
He said each applicant was made to pay between 10,000 naira ($64) and 20,000 naira. Most Nigerians live on less than two dollars a day.
Mba said items including two laptops, three navy uniforms, one navy identity card bearing the name of the gang leader and the sum of 100,000 naira ($635) collected from the victims were recovered from the gang.
Mba advised job seekers to always authenticate "information relating to job adverts from appropriate authorities in order not to fall prey to unscrupulous fraudsters."
Despite its vast oil wealth, Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of 160 million people, has an unemployment rate of some 23 percent, with youth unemployment double that amount. Such fake employment scams occur regularly.