In the past decade, the internet has become more accessible all over Ghana to the point that more than half the country uses the internet on a daily basis. While this has had many benefits, it has also come with its own share of drawbacks. One of the negative things that have come from this is the rise of Ghana romance scams.
Romance scams in Ghana have become quite rampant and a lot of people are falling victim to this vice. There are plenty of young Ghanaian men and women who spend their days on Facebook and dating sites looking for divorced and widowed women and men on the other side of the world who they can scam. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at Ghana romance scams, why they happen, and what to look out for.
Overview of Romance Scams in Ghana
When you walk into any internet Cafe in Ghana, you will likely find it full of teenage boys or young men in front of each screen, logged into various dating sites under multiple fake profiles. These teenagers, also referred to as ‘browsers’ or ‘cafe boys’ in Ghana, are not interested in finding love at all.
What they are looking for is middle-aged and elderly men and women from the US, Canada, and Australia that they can trick into sending them money.
Scamming has become quite popular amongst Ghanaian youth especially since the unemployment rate in the country is ever high To make ends meet, young Ghanaian men and women are turning to the internet to find potential victims to scam.
According to the FBI, the scamming business has really grown in West Africa and the scammers are raking in millions of dollars every year from scams alone.
Reasons why romance scams happen in Ghana
Ghana has one of the highest unemployment rates in West Africa. There are millions of young people in Ghana without jobs or ways to make a proper living. This has led to many Ghanaians turning to scams as their source of income. Some of the youth in Ghana see scamming as the only way they can make a living.
2. Availability of smartphones
Chinese smartphone manufacturers have flooded the Ghanaian market with extremely cheap smartphones to the point that almost everyone in Ghana owns one. These smartphones can access all the dating sites in the world which has made it easier for scammers to do their business.
3. Cheap internet
Compared to most countries, internet rates in Ghana are quite cheap. Even unemployed people can afford to buy the internet they need to run their scams.
4. Lack of regulation
The local law enforcement agencies in Ghana do not really care about scammers. In fact, most of them don’t consider it a crime especially if the scams are done against white people from the western countries. Even though it is a crime, those engaging in scams have nothing to worry about as they never face any consequences for their actions.
How Ghana Romance Scams work
If you have ever been scammed, you know that you never really know what’s going on until the whole thing is done. Ghanaian scammers are really smart and have come up with various genius tricks to get people hooked. Some of them include:
1. Dating site scams
This is the most common type of scam in Ghana. The scammer uses a dating site to find potential victims and then uses a fake profile to carry out the scams. The most common websites used include Match.com, ChristianMingle.com, BabyBoomerPeopleMeet.com, OutTime.com, PlentyofFish.com, eHarmony.com, and Facebook. These types of scams can go on for months or even years as the scammer tries to gain the trust of their target.
2. Military scams
These are among the most common scam formats with the highest success rate. The scammer pretends to be a member of the military of the target victim’s country serving in Ghana. For instance, if the scammer’s target is an American, the scammer will pretend to be a US military man serving in Ghana or another nearby African country. The scammers search for pictures of real US military agents to accompany their dating site profiles.
3. WhatsApp groups
Scammers use WhatsApp groups to help each other become better scammers. For instance, they use such groups to share tips on mimicking various accents to trick their victims.
4. Live Chat
This is a common trick used by scammers to extract money from their targets. The scammers will promise their targets a live chat but only if they send them money to buy the equipment they need to make it happen.
5. The ask
Ultimately, a Ghanaian scammer is after money and they will do anything to trick their victims into sending them money. Sometimes they may ask for it a few days after ‘meeting’ you while in other cases, they can wait for months before asking for it. It depends on how they play the scam.
Signs of a Ghana Romance Scam
Some scams can be so perfectly orchestrated that you never actually find out about them until it’s way too late. However, this is not the case for most Ghana romance scams. If you are keen enough, you will be able to detect a Ghanaian scam from a mile away. The following are tips on what to look out for:
1. Inconsistent stories
Scammers usually use fake profiles with fake information that they can hardly keep track of unless they’re really good at it. If you are keen, you will definitely find some inconsistencies with their stories. For example, in one conversation the scammer could tell you that he’s a 30-year-old doctor and in another, they say they’re a 32-year old surgeon. Go over your chats and see if there are any inconsistencies.
2. You’ve never met and now they love you
No matter what anyone tries to convince you, it’s not really possible for humans to fall in love without ever meeting face to face. Think about it; would you fall in love with someone you’ve never met before? If so, there’s something wrong with you. We all know that online personas are far from what people are really like in real life.
3. It seems too good to be true
Scammers usually target old and vulnerable people who they know are desperate for love and affection. They set up their profiles in such a way that the target views them as the perfect match. If someone you met online really likes you and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. For instance, if you are an old 50-year old woman and suddenly a young 24-year old handsome Ghanaian man has fallen head over heels for you, it’s probably a scam. Think twice before you proceed.
4. Your online friend is plagued with medical problems
In an attempt to extract money from you, scammers will fill your inbox with sob stories of how they or a close member of their family is struggling with medical issues that require loans from you to sort out. No matter how desperate they sound, never send money to anyone you’ve never met.
5. Grammar mistakes
Most Ghanaians engaging in scams are usually illiterate or really poor at grammar which is one of the reasons why they can’t get employed. Their grammar will not match their supposed education level or life station.
6. They are against a live video chat
One of the best ways to know if someone you met online is who they say they are is through a live chat. Through a live chat, you can actually see the person’s face and compare it to the pictures they’ve used on the dating website profile. If you are dealing with a scammer, they will always have excuses on why the live chat is not possible. Some will claim that they lack proper equipment for live video chats, others will always have connection issues, while you may not be able to see others clearly.
7. When your friend runs into serious trouble just as they are about to meet you
Some of the best scammers will carry out the scam for months trying to get your trust so that they can finally gain you to do their bidding in the end. You could be bonding with your online friend for months but just as they are about to fly from Ghana to your location to be with you, they suddenly run into some trouble that requires some money to sort out. It could be anything; some may say they got into an accident while others may say they got detained by immigration and they need some money to sort out the issue so that you can finally be together.
What to do if you are a victim of a Scam
After falling victim to a Ghanaian scam, there is not really much you can do about it especially with regards to recovering any money you sent. Law enforcement officers in Ghana do not really care much about online scams and most of the time they won’t do anything even if you report it. However, you should still report it and hope for the best.