Knowing Your Enemy Is Your Best Defense!
West Africa, also called Western Africa and the West of Africa, is the westernmost subregion of the African continent. West Africa has been defined in Africa as including the 18 countries Benin, Burkina Faso, the island of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo. These are the same group of countries that are the global hub of the one-on-one Internet frauds.
West Africans primarily speak Niger–Congo languages, belonging mostly, though not exclusively, to its non-Bantu branches, though some Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic speaking groups are also found. The Niger–Congo-speaking Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Akan and Wolof ethnic groups are the largest and most influential. In the central Sahara, Mandinka or Mande groups are most significant. Chadic-speaking groups, including the Hausa, are found in more northerly parts of the region nearest to the Sahara, and Nilo-Saharan communities, such as the Songhai, Kanuri and Zarma, are found in the eastern parts of West Africa bordering Central Africa. The population of West Africa is estimated at 340 million people as of 2013.
The Famous 419 Money Fraud
419 scams are a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, which the fraudster requires a small up-front payment to obtain. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.
There are many variations on this type of scam, including advance-fee fraud, Fifo’s Fraud, Spanish Prisoner Scam, the black money scam, and the Detroit-Buffalo scam. The number “419” refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now used with the Internet. Online versions of the scam originate primarily in the United States, the United Kingdom and Nigeria, with Ivory Coast, Togo, South Africa, the Netherlands and Spain also having high incidences of such fraud.
Of course today, they are many variations of these older Internet Frauds; most notable of them if the Romance Scam for which this website is dedicated.
West African Romance Scam:
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims’ money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Scammers post profiles, using stolen photographs of attractive persons, asking for others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Letters or emails or messages are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money. This might be for requests for gas money or bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc. There is usually the promise that the fictitious character will one day join the victim in the victim’s country. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed or stops sending money. Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance was a farce.
In some cases, online dating services are themselves engaged in misrepresentation, displaying profiles which have been fabricated, which use personal information from users who have not agreed to be depicted on the site or by presenting outdated or out-of-region profiles as current and local.
Since this largely originated in Nigeria, it has spread to become a major industry in West Africa with “branch offices” (so to speak) in almost every West African nation and city.