Foreign

US warns its citizens in Ghana against romance scams

Americans residing in Ghana have been cautioned to be wary as they could be scammed under the pretext of online intimate relationships.

“U.S. citizens should be alert to attempts at fraud by persons who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet, especially those claiming to be U.S. citizens living, traveling or serving in the U.S. military in Ghana,” the US Embassy in Ghana posted the alert on its website targeted at citizens of that country.

The Embassy listed some eight scenarios it believed are scams, and urged its citizens to be advised accordingly.

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 or other life problems requiring loans from you.

You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of alluvial gold or gems. You’ve sent large sums of money 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, he/she gets into a car accident or is detained by immigration officials demanding payment, bribes, or proof of a certain amount of cash on hand for travel.

Your correspondent consistently uses lower case “i’s” and/or grammar not in keeping with their supposed life station or education level.

“Cases bearing these and similar hallmarks have all proven to be scams intended to prey on sympathetic and compassionate U.S. citizen victims.”

The Embassy said many Americans have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams.

It said in the event their nationals lose their money, they should be warned that their chances of getting it back “are almost nil.”

British loses investment in gold scam

A British national, Simon [not real name] was in 2017 reportedly duped by a Ghanaian of his £200,000 in a scam Simon said left him ‘in a very dark place’ after he lost his home, pension and savings, leaving him penniless.

Simon was allegedly defrauded by convincing con artists who said that gold worth £5 million could be released in return for payment.

According to the scamwatch.gov.au, an Australian website, over 20,000 scam cases were reported in December 2018 alone.

The US Embassy in Ghana on its website said these scammers work from internet cafés and are entirely portable and elusive.

“Furthermore, this type of crime is not a priority for local police and it is difficult to prosecute these cases. The Embassy can offer a sympathetic ear, share information on protecting yourself against such scams, and help you determine if your situation is real or fraudulent, but cannot do much.”

6 Ghanaians in US charged for online romance scams

In March 2018, six Ghanaians were charged by a US grand jury for conspiring to launder and for laundering money in online romance scams.

These Ghanaians were among eight persons charged on February 14, 2018, according to a statement from the Attorney General of the US Southern District of Ohio’s office.

Eight Central Ohio defendants charged on Valentine’s Day were indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to launder and for laundering the proceeds of online romance scams.

The eight persons were identified as Kwabena M. Bonsu, Kwasi A. Oppong, Kwame Ansah, John Y. Amoah, Samuel Antwi, King Faisal Hamidu, Nkosiyoxoxo Msuthu and Cynthia Appiagyei.

According to the indictment, the accused exhibited fraudulent intent when they created several profiles on online dating sites.

They are believed to have defrauded at least 26 victims who were identified. They contacted men and women throughout the United States “with whom they cultivated a sense of affection, and often, romance.”

“After establishing relationships, perpetrators of the romance scams allegedly requested money, typically for investment or need-based reasons, and provided account information and directions for where money should be sent. In part, these accounts were controlled by the defendants. Typical wire amounts ranged from $10,000 to more than $100,000 per wire,” the statement revealed.

The Attorney General’s office said the money was not used for the purposes claimed by the fraudsters, but instead used for “transactions designed to conceal, such as withdrawing cash, transferring funds to other accounts and purchasing assets and sending the assets overseas.”

It is also alleged that the individuals used some of the fraud proceeds to purchase salvaged vehicles sold online for export to Ghana. Fictitious reasons for investment requests included gold, diamond, oil and gas pipeline opportunities in Africa.

Below is the full alert the US Embassy posted on its website,/b>

U.S. citizens should be alert to attempts at fraud by persons who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet, especially those claiming to be U.S. citizens living, traveling or serving in the U.S. military in Ghana. Correspondents’ quick transition to discussion of intimate matters could be an indicator of fraudulent intent. Correspondents may cultivate the relationship for several months before asking for money, but if they are after your money, eventually they will ask for it.

Before you send any money to Ghana, please take the time to do your research and inform yourself. 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 or other life problems requiring loans from you.

You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of alluvial gold or gems.

You’ve sent large sums of money 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, he/she gets into a car

accident or is detained by immigration officials demanding payment, bribes, or proof of a certain amount of cash on hand for travel.

Your correspondent consistently uses lower case “i’s” and/or grammar not in keeping with their supposed life station or education level.

Cases bearing these and similar hallmarks have all proven to be scams intended to prey on sympathetic and compassionate U.S. citizen victims. We advise U.S. citizens not to send money to people they have never actually met. [Note: Even if the request comes from a family member or someone you have met, beware of “Grandparent Scams” and do not send money without first contacting the Office of Overseas Citizen Services.]

Many Americans have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams. In the event you do lose money, be warned that your chances of getting it back are almost nil. These scammers work from internet cafés and are entirely portable and elusive. Furthermore, this type of crime is not a priority for local police and it is difficult to prosecute these cases. The Embassy can offer a sympathetic ear, share information on protecting yourself against such scams, and help you determine if your situation is real or fraudulent, but cannot do much else. Victims can report the scam to the FBI at www.ic3.gov and might also consider alerting the dating website on which the scammer was encountered.

The anonymity of the internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. In the majority of cases reported to the Embassy, the claimed “U.S. citizen” correspondent turned out to be a fictitious persona created only to lure the U.S. citizen victim into sending money.

Please note that a fiancé(e) or spouse cannot simply come to the Embassy and apply for a visa to move to the United States. The process for obtaining a fiancé(e) or spouse visa must be initiated by the U.S. citizen with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. U.S. citizens may refer to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Bureau of Consular Affairs for authoritative information about the immigration process and the true costs involved. The Bureau of Consular Affairs also has additional information on Internet Dating and Romance Scams.

If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, please read through our information on Resources for Victims of International Financial Scams. In the aftermath of a scam, some people have also found support and camaraderie at the following sites started by and for scam victims. Participants have reported that the groups help underscore the breadth of the problem and allow people to see they are not alone. Please note this site is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. government.

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