THE DEPUTY Director Of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Mr. Patrick Kwabena Ampewuah, has cautioned the general public, especially the business community against fraudsters and 419 scammers, including Internet fraudsters, who are ever increasing their sophistication through finding new ways of using the Internet to scam innocent consumers.
In an interview with The Chronicle, the Deputy Director noted that a majority of fraud cases handled by the CID these recent years were 419 scams and cyber crimes.
**He said 14,657 fraud cases were handled by the police, an increase of 1455 on the 2002 figure of 13,202. Fraud over the internet is popular because of its anonymity, ease in promoting and its lack of borders. Fraudsters had required intelligence and bravado to persuade people face to face.With the increase of the internet comes an increase in fraud - and these fraudsters no longer need to be eye-to-eye ball persuasive; just persistent and patient.
Fraud on the Internet is not limited to fraudulent or fake web sites, untrustworthy websites, phishing (fishing) for personal information with fraudulent emails, online auction fraud - buyers and sellers, increased Nigerian 419 advance fee fraud, lottery advance fee scams, business opportunities & work from home scams, international modem dialing and cramming,and credit card fraud.
According to Mr. Ampewuah, unknown persons claiming to be relatives of late African heads of state, such as Gen. Abacha, Mobutu Seseseko, Samuel Doe, among others are sending e-mails and making phone calls, offering wild and fantastic business proposals.
He told The Chronicle that the public should not rush into business transaction with people they do not know and to remember that those late heads of state do not have any property in the country. "Ghanaians should not be deceived," he added.
There has been a huge increase in types of frauds that gain personal information, which is then used or sold for the purpose of identity theft. Advance fee fraud, where cash is required from a consumer before a payout of millions from lotteries or Nigerian business proposals, is used for two purposes.
If the fraudsters are lucky enough to scam the consumer out of cash, then that is a small bonus to complement the personal details they have extracted from the consumer and these can include bank account and credit card details, passport numbers, social security numbers, etc.
Other crimes that the CID is fighting, according to the Deputy Commissioner, are illegal acquisition of visa, gold and diamond smuggling in the country.
He advised Ghanaians that in the event of such transactions or approaches, legal or police advice should be sought.
However, he said, culprits would be prosecuted for defrauding by false pretence if they had evidence.