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British Airways and the Nigerian Fraudster

November 27, 2008

I’m struggling with the perception of Nigerian fraud as being more of a threat to the world than any other. On the one hand, I’m almost proud of the reputation, you have to giggle at the ingenuity, audacity and bluntness that while not being uniquely Nigerian, we seem to do quite well. On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder how far it will go, will people stop me from paying for things with cards because I have a Nigerian name? Will I ever be able to go through an airport and not get ‘extra’ attention and security? Will the imigration officers at British airports ever stop trying to see if my passport is fake just because of my place of birth?

Anyway, all that aside, I had to have a giggle at BA’s latest attempt to stem their perceived problem of fraud. I’m generally the ‘do-er of stuff’ in my family, so in keeping with tradition I’m doing the booking for myself and my siblings’ trips to Nigeria this December. Having booked for myself and two siblings, I had to make a separate booking for my sister as she was travelling on a different date. You can imagine my shock after having completed one transaction, I get halfway through my sister’s and I get all sorts of red messages flashing on the screen telling me I had to complete the booking offline and phone BA.

My actual first thought was that they wanted to check my card as I had already completed one lot of bookings, but then I remembered I hadn’t even got as far as putting in my card number. So, intrigued I phoned BA, and they told me quite directly that because of the high incidence of fraud on the route (London-Abuja), I could not book a flight for someone else unless I was travelling too (therefore presenting my card at the airport). The only way around it was to find a travel agent!

So there it is, I can book a flight for anyone else on any other route (as clearly no-one else tries to commit fraud) just not to Nigeria. Clearly no bias happening there because Nigerian fraudsters must only go to Nigeria….not anywhere else in the world…surely not….and BA have to do something because clearly they must be paying for the fraud…not the credit card companies…..obviously.

Someone needs to give me some alternatives soon for travelling to Nigeria, Bellvue should consider a direct flight to Abuja (avoiding Lagos airport is high on my priority list) so I can tell BA where to shove their flights once and for all. One too many poor experiences and now this, they don’t need my money and if I could, I would rather spend it elsewhere!

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