The full article and comments can be viewed here http://inwent-iij-lab.org/Weblog/2011/0 ... its-ghana/
Internet Romance Scam Epidemic Hits Ghana
January 13th, 2011 · by Atiku Iddrisu · No Comments
Ghanaian youths are gaining notoriety for the country in connection with internet scams.
The Accra Daily Mail (ADM) newspaper, which this writer works for, is daily inundated with sad stories from abroad of how men and women who believe they are getting the love of their lives end up being bilked of huge sums of money.
The following questions are posed to people living abroad who are love sick. Have you fallen in love online? Do you have any online girlfriend? Have you exchanged photos with them? Do they look like real?Did they send genuine looking documents? Did they ask you for some money to come over to you? Did you give them money? If your answer to any two of these questions is “Yes” then you might be dealing with an online scammer.
ADM decided to follow through a complaint sent in by a love sick man in the UK who said he had been fooled into sending cash to a lady he fell in love with on the Internet, Following the scent he provided, ADM investigations led to a ring of young men and women in Ghana, who create false profiles on dating sites to defraud unsuspecting single men looking for love from overseas.
These young people apart from using semi-nude photographs of different ladies to lure unsuspecting men, especially widowers and lonely men, also fake birth certificates, passports and visas to convince their victims that they are genuine.
In the case of the complainant from the UK, who sent more than £1, 200, apart from booking a BA flight for his newfound “wife” to join him, she never surfaced to consummate the “marriage”!The relationship began after the exchange of a few emails. He received various documents including what looked like family photos from his “lover” to make him believe that she was genuine. Little did he know that his online girlfriend was a male!
ADM investigations have since led to the arrest of two young men and their female collaborators whose photographs were used in faking two Ghanaian passports and a UK visa to defraud the love sick Britisher.
The four suspects are Kwabena Owusu Gyamfi, 31, shopkeeper, Baba Iddrisu, 17, student, Amanda Dishneill, 21, student, and Rahmatu Adamu, 27, a volunteer working with BasicNeeds Ghana, an international NGO. They have all confessed to the crime and pleaded for leniency.
When the ADM reporter, with the help of the police, got into the suspects’ fraudulent mailboxes, it came to light that they had made contacts with hundreds of unsuspecting men, some of whom had been sending cash and birthday gifts.They are assisting the police in investigations, especially with regards to the fake birth certificates, passports and visas.
Online dating scammers always create false personal profiles and make contact with their victims via an online dating agency or a specialized chat room.They often say that they are seeking romance or a soul mate but are really out to steal not only your heart but your cash too.
Scammers can sign up to online dating agencies or chat rooms just like anyone else. Many online dating sites allow anyone to join for free, and they usually do not screen their members. They take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to create the profile of your perfect match and make any number of promises to attract you and cause you to open up to them.
How to identify them
They make unnecessary demands. The scammer will surely ask for your money, though this will not happen immediately – however, before long the scammer will ask for financial help for any number of reasons. Almost always, they will ask you to send money using an untraceable source such as a telegraphic money transfer
The following is a slightly edited communication the ADM reporter had with a near victim in Germany:
“Hello Iddrisu ! Thank You for the warning you gave me as “Linda” and sorry I was so rough at first. I am a lonely man from Germany and so searched for a soul mate at the website “www.afrointroductions.com “, I like the African women so this seemed the right site to me. But soon pretty girls contacted me and during the first chat after just a few minutes asked me to send them either money or, as in the case of “Linda”, to send a ticket and visa to enter Germany. With that fake Linda I instantly knew that somebody wants just my money, what I didn’t know was that “she” was in reality a man. Thanks again for telling me!”