European and United States citizens should be alert to attempts at fraud by persons claiming to live in Ghana who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet. Correspondents who quickly move to discussion of intimate matters could well be the inventions of scammers. If they are after your money, eventually they will ask for it.
Before you send any money to Ghana, please take the time to be very well informed. Start by considering the fact that scams are common enough to warrant this warning. Next, look over this partial list of indicators. If any of them sound familiar, you are likely the victim of an internet scam.
- You met a friend/fiancé online
- You've never met face to face
- Your correspondent professed love at warp speed
- Your friend/fiancé is plagued with medical problems requiring loans from you
- You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of alluvial gold or gems
- You've sent large sums for visas or plane tickets but the person cannot seem to make it out of Ghana
- When your friend does try to leave the country, h/she is detained by immigration officials demanding payment or bribes
- Your correspondent consistently uses lower case "i's" and/or grammar not in-keeping with their supposed life station or education level.
This type of crime is not a priority for local police, even if they had the resources to tackle it. The Embassy can offer a sympathetic ear but, often, little else. Victims can report the scam on www.ic3.gov and might also consider alerting the dating website on which the scammer was encountered.
Some facts and resources:
- It is very difficult to recover money sent to these scammers as they work from internet cafes and are entirely portable and elusive.
- Many Americans have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams.
U.S. citizens may refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Bureau of Consular Affairs for authoritative information about the immigration process and the true costs involved.
In the aftermath of a scam, some people have found support and camaraderie at a Yahoo Group started by and for scam victims. Participants have reported that the group helps underscore the breadth of the problem and allows people to see they are not alone - please note this group is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. government. www.wilsonsdetectives.com in business since 1951