If I advertise on the radio stations and in newspapers that I have won a jackpot of 10 million Euros and that I am ready to give away 1,000 Euros each to the first two thousand people who write to my email address, I am very sure I will receive thousands of response. On the other hand, if I advertise that I have two thousand Christian tracts which talk about Christ' death and resurrection and I am ready to post a free copy to the first two thousand people who write to my mail, I can say with certainty that not more than a hundred people will write to request for it. The greed and lust for money make easy victims of so many of us by these internet scammers and fraudsters.
It is important to state that all the stories narrated in this article are true. I have however, not used their actual names to prevent the victims from embarrassment. Scammers from Ghana and Nigeria have now turned their attention to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Senegal. This is due to the density of White people in these countries. Most of them are so well to do but gullible. It has become increasingly difficult for them to dupe their fellow Africans, since the amount they demand is beyond the reach of many Africans both home and abroad.
One early morning I received three letters. I picked them up and immediately saw the stamp of Ivory Coast on one of the letters. Who could this be? I opened it and began to read:
Dear, beloved in Christ Jesus,
I greet you in the matchless name of our Lord and savior Christ Jesus. How are you and the family as well. I am Mrs Rita Idoma
I was born in a rich & Christian family before I was married to Mr. Mark Idoma. Before he died in 2003 after a brief sickness, he left in the Private Finance Company the amount of usd $ 4 000000(four million dollars) for charity works and for the following project:
1. church planting and purchasing lands for churches
2. conducting the Gospel Revivals
3. Pastors conferences
4. to start Bible school and to raise many leaders for the Lord's kingdom
5. Supporting the poor and needy pastors
6. caring for the old aged people, orphans, widows.
7. Supporting HIV patients and their children
8. Reaching the un-Reached villages with Gospel.
9. Planning for the orphan Home
10. Planning to start the TV ministry ( to preach the word of God in TV )
11. Planning to give education to the poor people and pastors children
12. His vision is to reach all the villages, local town state that do not know GOD.
Reply through my email so that I will hand you this money for the above projects.
yours faitful in christ
Mrs Rita Idoma.
I decided to write to her for details even though I kept wondering how she got my home address. The name Idoma sounded Nigerian to me. I decided to write to her in French. She replied that she was from Nigeria but her husband who was an Ivorian brought her to Ivory Coast so I should write in English. She told me she had terminal cancer and was at the hospital so she had given the money locked in an iron box, to a security company and therefore I should write to the security company. I did and they told me they were going to send the box by courier and that would cost me $480 and I would have to send it to them by Western Union. I immediately wrote to Mrs Idoma, and a nurse replied that she died a week ago so I should hurry and get the money sent to me. She said the woman left the keys to the box with her, so as soon as the box gets to me she will post the keys to me. I wrote to tell her to go for the money and use it herself.
The scammers in Senegal are much more interesting. Men who hide behind the pictures of young girls between the ages of twenty five and thirty would say they are from Liberia, Sudan or Rwanda, supposedly living in refugee camps in Senegal. They write to you with an invitation of love which could lead to marriage. They are quick to say that age, colour and religion do not matter. Almost all their pictures show fair complexioned girls. If you care to write to them, almost all of them will tell you that their parents were doctors, politicians or very rich businessmen who were killed during the war or died in a plane crash. These men, presenting themselves as young girls, write to their recipients, promising them a percentage share of the inheritance of millions of dollars left for them in a Senegalese bank.
A greedy white man, Jonas Parkinson, who showed extreme interest, replied to one of such letters. He was told to write to a lawyer whose email address was provided by the girl, and to present himself as a partner, which he did. The lawyer replied and told him that the money involved was huge, a whopping eight million dollars ($8.0m), and he would, therefore, have to prepare an affidavit and other important documents which would link him to the amount at the bank. The man was supposed to pay a legal fee of $570 before the documents were prepared. Jonas transferred the money to the lawyer without hesitation. His eyes were fixed on the amount which he would share with the lady in the long run. The lawyer sent the documents as attachments to him with the instruction to forward the attachments to the bank. Little did he know that it was a man impersonating a girl, and that same man was acting as the lawyer and he was the same person acting as the Manager of the said bank. Jonas, who resided in Europe, was given an assurance by the bank that the process to transfer the amount to him would take three days. He was to provide his personal details, address, photocopy of his passport, accounts number and name of his bank. He discussed the issue with the "girl" who encouraged him to always do as the Bank instructed him. He obeyed.
The Bank manager told his victim in an email to contact the lawyer again and ask for a money laundering certificate. This would prevent the suspicion that the money was obtained through crime. According to the lawyer, this was a very difficult process since the certificate had to be signed by five top people in Senegal including the Minister of trade and the Director-General of Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). The lawyer said it was going to cost him $5600. This Jonas paid as he said to himself that this was the last hurdle. When he forwarded the certificate to the Bank, the lawyer wrote to him again that the bank had drawn his attention to an inheritance tax of $228,000 which he had to pay before the money was transferred to his account. A Gambian friend of his was travelling to Banjul. Jonas explained the situation to his friend and gave him the inheritance tax money to pay on his behalf. He gave the name of his partner, Sandra Oyema, to him. Once in Dakar, he should call to the pastor of the refugee centre, who would call Sandra for him.
When he arrived in Dakar, the Gambian called the pastor who was in charge of the refugee camp. He did not go to Dakar alone but with a cousin who was a former policeman in the Gambia Police Force. He finally got to where the pastor was. He normally received the white man's call and called Sandra to the phone. The Gambian told the pastor that he would like to go to the lawyer with Sandra and pay the inheritance tax on behalf of his friend. The pastor told him that Sandra had joined a group on excursion to the north. He decided to see the lawyer with his cousin. The pastor told him that the lawyer was attending a lawyers' conference in Ghana. The pastor suggested he allowed him to pay the money on his behalf when the lawyer arrived.
He refused and promised they would come in two weeks' time. After about two hundred meters away, an elderly person followed them and shouted to them to stop. When he got near them, he strongly advised them not to part with even one dollar. The man was not a pastor. He was Kwame Appiah from Ghana and a smart internet fraudster. He took strength from fetish priests who normally poured human or animal blood on his feet. Through fetishism he believed he could hypnotise or mesmerise potential recipients of his mails to obey the payment instructions. He added that Kwame Appiah wrote assuming a girl's name, played the roles of a lawyer and the bank manager. So when the "girl" instructed you to write to either the lawyer or the Bank manager, your mails went to the same person. As a matter of fact the millions of dollars do not exist and Jonas Parkinson ended up with a great loss.
The situation is not different in Burkina Faso where pretentious Bank managers wrote to you to connect you to rich businessmen who died in plane accidents, and had the same family names as you. Their ultimate intention was to cheat you of your money. One would be wondering how these scammers come by the email addresses of other people. The two surest ways are as follows: They search through the websites mostly at the features articles section and pick email addresses of columnists. They also pick email addresses from mass mails. It is important that when you write a mail to many people, you write all their addresses in the Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) column. This way, each recipient will not see the addresses of the other recipients. There are certain companies who illegally sell the email addresses of their customers. These scammers are able to get email addresses through this way too.
As Ghanaians we must be very vigilant and refuse to be attracted to an invitation to receive millions of dollars. This advice goes especially to Europeans, Americans and to other nationalities too. They are scam and fake. Not all that glitters is gold.
Written by: Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces At Crossroads
Email: [email protected]