Wanderer Wednesday #8: How to avoid romance scams

Ghana is a wonderful place with friendly people that are like most places generally honest.  If you don’t believe me go and visit, spend some time and get to know some people.  But unfortunately recently Ghana has gained a little bit of a reputation for being a place where internet scammers reside.  The allure of potentially easy money has attracted many youth to this enterprise in Ghana taking what they have learned from Nigerian 419 scams and incorporated Ju-Ju magic into it for a flavor of their own that is that is referred to as Sakawa.  The main orchestraters are usually young men called Sakawa boys, and they use a number of different ways to defraud potential victims.  They use email letters about getting rich quick, they try to get products off of criagslist and other places by using different bogus paypal scams, and they may use a sister or girl friend to allure a love sick man.

There is one of three things that is usually in common with most of the victims that would fall for these scams because most of the time common sense will keep your pocket book out of reach.  These traits are that they are usually either love sick, elderly or greedy.  For the sack of this blog post we will be talking about Romance scams.  This involves having a young pretty girl find men that are looking for love and develop a relationship then have money sent to her.  Sometimes these girls are not even real but just pictures the young men find of the internet of girls in suggestive poses.  And sometimes they use a sister or a girlfriend to occasionally sit in front of a web came and talk to the target.  But there is usually a male involved in the majority of the email and written chat conversations with the target not knowing.  They will then give some compelling reasons for money to be sent to them from their target.  She may say that she will be loosing her house or room where she is staying if she does not get money.  Or her grandma will be sick and the medical bills need paid.  Or even the very popular one that she is going to fly to the country of the target to meet and marry them, she needs money for expenses like getting a visa and plane ticket.  The departure will always be pushed back though and she will never leave, often a story about her death will be given to the victim to end the transaction.

How can you avoid these scams or detect if your loved ones are being scammed:

  1. If you are talking to a girl on the internet and says she is from Ghana and sends you picture of a white woman, she is probably not real.
  2. Never send money to someone you do not know if it is not for some sort of business transaction or purchasing of a product which still warrants caution.
  3. Before getting emotionally attached to someone or trying to pursue a relationship make sure you have met in person.  (be very careful about this though, not generally wise to do with strangers off the internet)
  4. If you ever wonder about a scam or a business transaction in another country you can always contact your consulate in that country, they are trained in identifying these issues and inform you.
  5. Meet people in person and not on the internet then you have less of a chance of being duped.

If you have discovered that you may be involved in a scam contact your consulate in that country and law enforcement in your own.  It is not advisable to go on your own to find out, often there are contingencies for that situation where the scam can still be continued, it can also be dangerous, not to mention even the chance of finding who is behind your scam is slim.

The really sad part of all of this is that Ghana is a wonderful place to visit with caring, and kind people, this is an example of how a few bad apples can ruin it for everyone.  It is possible to visit Ghana and not even know that this goes on, part of the advantage to the scammers is that you are at a distance, and they will rarely attempt to defraud someone in person.

If you want to get to know Ghanaians or meet a Ghanaian lady, just visit Ghana.  There are many people that would be interested in meeting you not because of your money but because they are curious about you and who you are.  Ghanaians love when people come and visit their country and take it as a source of pride.  Just be respectful and read our guide on how to travel respectfully in Ghana, part one and two.

My intention here was not to scare anyone away from visiting Ghana, because you are are more at risk of getting scammed in front of your computer at home then actually in Ghana, but it is important to know the realities of the situation.  If I have potentially stopped someone from wasting their money then that is what is important.  Stay safe and  just use common sense.

 

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