Crime is a serious problem throughout Cameroon. U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling in Cameroon. Internet-based crime in Cameroon is escalating rapidly, and everyone, including businesses and other institutions, should be extremely skeptical of any financial transactions that involve sending money for goods, services, or adoptions. Crimes against property, such as carjacking and burglaries, have often been accompanied by violent acts and resulted in fatalities. All foreigners are potential targets for theft with possible attendant violence. Armed banditry has been a problem throughout all ten regions in Cameroon. In January 2011, over 20 Peace Corps volunteers were robbed at gunpoint in Kribi. In December 2010, a U.S citizen who was residing in Douala was murdered, and in Yaounde a U.S. citizen and a British citizen were sexually assaulted in separate incidents in March 2011. In August 2012, a U.S. citizen residing in Bamenda was murdered, and a British family was held at gun point in their hotel room for almost an hour in the middle of the night. Shortly after the attackers left, one of the victims went for help only to be shot at several times. This incident happened in the vicinity of Melong and the Mount Manengouba National Park in the Littoral Region.
In the past, armed bandits have erected road barricades to steal vehicles. While there have been no major incidents of banditry involving westerners since 2010, travelers may encounter random security checkpoints intended to curb the practice. Cameroonian law requires that you must carry identification at all times, and security personnel may request that travelers show their passport, residence card, driver's license, and/or vehicle registration at these roadblocks. You should keep certified copies of these important documents in a secure location separate from the originals. In an effort to monitor road safety, security personnel have also established roadblocks along major highways to check for safety triangles and fire extinguishers. Vehicles without these items may be required to pay a fine. Security personnel have been known to ask for bribes, but normally allow expatriate travelers to continue after delaying them for a period of time. The U.S. government does not condone bribery or corruption of any kind.
There have been many crimes involving public transportation. Taxis can be dangerous; U.S. Embassy personnel cannot use taxi cabs in Cameroon. Taxis in Cameroon function more like a U.S. bus system, with drivers stopping along the road to pick up additional passengers as long as there is space left in the vehicle. Taxi drivers and accomplices posing as passengers often conspire to commit serious crimes including rape, robbery, and assault. If you must use a taxi, consider hiring a driver you know and his/her private taxi for your exclusive use for that particular trip. Taxi passengers should be particularly vigilant at night.
The risk of street and residential crime is high. Incidents often involve gangs and relate to home invasion and kidnapping. Periodic efforts by authorities in Yaoundé to clear streets and public spaces of illegally constructed homes and market stalls can become confrontational, and may contribute to surges in criminality as these very modest homes and businesses are destroyed.
Many crimes involve an “inside man” and target individuals or locations involved with payrolls or other activities involving large sums of cash. Carjackings and robberies have also been reported on rural highways, especially in the northern region near Cameroon's border with the Central African Republic and Chad.
The Embassy has identified a wide range of internet scams based in Cameroon. These schemes cover a broad spectrum of bogus activities, including adoptions, insurance claims, dating, real estate, the provision of domestic services (such as nannies and household help), agricultural products, antiques, and exotic or domesticated animals. Often, these are advance-fee scams where the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value, such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift, and then receives little or nothing in return. U.S. citizens should never send money or travel to Cameroon to meet someone contacted via the Internet without first checking with the Embassy’s Commercial Section. Commercial scams targeting foreigners, many including U.S. citizens, continue to be a problem. The scams generally involve phony offers of lucrative sales and repeated requests for additional funds to pay for unforeseen airport and/or customs fees. Do not share your personal financial or account information.
Additionally, the U.S. Embassy is aware of complaints by U.S. citizens shipping vehicles or other merchandise to Cameroon who are unable to complete the transaction as they had expected, and who have ended up being detained based on these commercial disputes. The ability of U.S. Embassy officers to extricate U.S. citizens from the legal consequences of unlawful business deals is limited. U.S. citizens are urged to complete financial transactions with trusted partners only, insist on written contracts, and to avoid informal agreements.
For more information on international financial scams, including those involving internet dating, a promise of an inheritance windfall, a promise of a work contract overseas, overpayment for goods purchased on-line, or money-laundering, see the Department of State's publication International Financial Scams. If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a transaction in Cameroon, contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon. The Embassy’s commercial section regularly assists U.S. citizens seeking to determine the legitimacy of commercial transactions.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
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