Watch Out For Romance Scams
Originally published: Jan 15, 2013
Everyone should be alert to attempts at fraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements.
A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. by persons claiming to live in Ghana who professes friendship or romantic interest over the Internet. Correspondents who quickly move to a 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, or anywhere else, 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 A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost..
You met a friend/fiancé online
You’ve never met face to face
Your correspondent professed love or seriousness at warp speed
Your friend/fiancé is plagued with medical problems requiring loans from you, or had a rich parent die in an auto accident, had an evil uncle take all her/his property, trapped there, etc. Ultimately, with less than 20 communications, the question of sending money to “help” will come up.
They have money but can’t get to it, or need to move it out of the country, or 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/Nigeria/Russia/Belize/Brazil, etc.
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
Cases bearing these and other hallmarks have all proven to be scams intended to separate sympathetic people from their money. We advise everyone not to send money to people they have never actually met. In the event you do lose money, be warned that your chances of getting it back are almost nil. This type of crime is not a priority for local police, even if they had the resources to tackle it. The Embassy or your country in Ghana, etc., can offer a sympathetic ear but, often, little else. Victims can report the scam on www.ic3.gov and on www.Anyscam.com 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.
The anonymity of the Internet means that you cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. In the majority of cases reported, the correspondent turned out to be a fictitious persona created only to lure the person into sending money.
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.
If the correspondent provides an image of a purported U.S. visa as proof of intention to travel, you may contact the United States Embassy in Accra at email@example.com, or another country, to ascertain the validity of the visa.
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.
This is not all there is to this. This entire website is dedicated to helping the public avoid scams and for victims to learn how to recover! Please take the time to learn how to be safe online.