Ghanaian Scammers – Youth Fall Out Of Poverty As Romance Scammers – But That Is No Justification For Criminality
SCARS Comment: While this may be true, people struggle everywhere to make a living and the vast majority of them do it honestly! There is never an excuse in being poor and turning to crime! This is true for Ghana scammers, and cybercriminals everywhere else.
Qasim, who lives in Accra, the capital of Ghana, was nicknamed “Starflex” as a teenager as the ace striker of the school’s soccer team.
But now, at 22, he is a Ghana scammer and has abandoned his studies and football and earns his living by finding and luring victims of international romance scams online all night.
In the bedroom, Starflex and his friends Suleiman, 19, and Patrick, 18, huddled around their phones and laptops, exchanging intimate messages with potential victim “friends” they met on dating sites.
She travels across Facebook and Instagram to disrespect [steal] photos of influencers and actresses, create fake accounts on dating sites, and lure men looking for marriage partners.
Starflex told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that it “maintains accounts by using photos and videos of people shopping, cooking, and playing with friends.”
In Ghana, young school dropouts are increasingly stealing personal information on social media and engaging in international romance scams as Ghana scammers.
According to Ghana’s cybersecurity authorities, the cost of identity fraud so far this year has reached an estimated 49.5 million cedi (about 640 million yen) [USD$4,382,060].
Starflex poses as Joan, a 23-year-old graduate girl from Turkey, chatting with an American real estate agent she met on a dating site. The real estate agent believes that Joan’s parents died of the new coronavirus and is willing to pay $5,000 (about 730,000 yen) in tuition fees to prevent her from being deported.
Starflex said, “They send $500 a month from the U.S. for living expenses, is there a job in Ghana where they can earn $50 a day?” I smile. The money sent is cashed in a virtual currency wallet and shared with fellow scammers on a shift system.
The spread of these scams is backed by decades of economic crisis in Ghana. Poverty persists, and youth unemployment exceeds 30%.
“In the slums around Accra, 8 out of 10 children are scammed,” said Kwadou Agemam, an IT teacher in Accra’s public schools. “Just look at their phones and you’ll find nude photos online that they use to seduce men.”
The Pain Of Poverty For Ghana Scammers
Starflex and Suleiman grew up in the impoverished neighborhoods around Accra. Both said they were forced to support themselves as teenagers due to financial hardship and engaged in fraud.
When his father suffered a stroke and his mother, who ran a small business, was running out of enough money to feed the family, Suleiman was lured into a fraudulent group of Ghana scammers by Starflex.
“It was hard to go to school, there was no money for breakfast or lunch,” he said. “Starflex said he was pulling money from white people, and he could make money by imitating it,” he said.
In July, the government launched a nationwide school program to teach students about social media use and cyber risks.
Ghana and Nigeria have stepped up their efforts to tackle cross-border crime, particularly cybercrime such as online fraud. Both countries have cyber laws in place and conduct regular investigations, but charges are rare, according to Mike Roberts, founder of Rexfield, who specializes in cybercrime investigations. “The greatest deterrent to fraud is justice, and if you don’t think you can fool people and get caught, you won’t stop scamming,” he said.
Ghana Scammer Tactics
In a 2022 report, Ghana’s cybersecurity authority found that identity theft accounted for the majority of online fraud detections, attributing it to the ease of creating social media accounts.
Sean Gallagher, a researcher at Sophos X-Ops, a British cybersecurity firm, pointed out that scammers in Ghana and other West African regions are mimicking Chinese romance scam techniques, such as sending money using crypto accounts.
According to him, there is a market to buy and sell hacked Facebook and Twitter (now X) accounts, which can be purchased with cryptocurrencies and cash.
In some cases, photos copied from other social media accounts are used to create perfect profiles, a system that has already reached the industrial level.
Tina, a 57-year-old single mother who owns a medical billing company in New York State, met a gem expert on a dating site called Ray Dixon in 2019. He was told he needed money for airline tickets, rent, and living expenses, and was defrauded of a total of $200,000 for more than two years.
“I borrowed money from friends and banks, and stopped sending money when I lost everything.” Roberts is working with law enforcement and others to investigate and track down her Ghana scammers to help Tina get her money back. The chase revealed that it was a criminal network in Ghana that carried out the scam.
Suleiman says he falls into self-loathing when he thinks of women like Tina. He is determined to wash his feet from fraud within a year and sets aside $200 a month to go to college. Still, he said, “I have no other choice at the moment, because I have to take care of my sick father and help my mother.”
SCARS Editorial Note
While poverty is real it is no excuse for these crimes that Ghana scammers engage in. We do not care if they feel bad, because they are choosing to cause real harm to real people. One part of the proof of this is in the way Ghana scammers scam their fellow countrymen and women. They are especially brutal when it comes to scammer people in their own country too.
Poverty is the ‘go to” excuse for all West African and Ghana scammers. As though being a criminal is their only choice. All around the world people create businesses with just a few pennies, but because scamming is so easy they don’t even try to do something that is not criminal. Being a Ghana scammer is their first choice as soon as it is presented.
Every criminal has an excuse for what they do, and Ghana scammers are no exception. Just like those in Nigeria, it is always someone else’s fault that they became a criminal. But it is vital that we all reject this excuse and recognize that this was a personal choice.