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19.04.2019 Feature Article

FRAUD ALERT ⚠ : Fraudsters and Impostors are using the identity of Ministers and MPs on social media.

When It Is Too Good To Be True: Detecting Fraud, Social Media And Cyber Security.
FRAUD ALERT ⚠ : Fraudsters and Impostors are using the identity of  Ministers and MPs on social media.

“All that glitters is not gold.” This saying is very apt for my encounter with a fellow on social media a few weekends ago.

On Thursday 03 March 2019, I had an unusual encounter on social media. I got an invitation from a person, purporting to be a minister of state.

For starters I was taken aback; normally I deal with politicians on LinkedIn and not Facebook, or Instagram.

It was quite out of character for this esteemed person to reach out to me on Instagram, and this raised “red flags”.

I have, subsequently, reached out to the honorable minister of state, who has informed me through my contacts and intermediaries that, it is an imposter parading as such. It seems the honorable minister of state and his assistants are aware of such criminal activities but, they have not responded well enough to curtail this menace.

From my understanding of this issue, It is entirely possible that:

  1. There are fraudsters in our midst, who are working on their own to dupe the unsuspecting public,
  2. It is the handiwork of opponents of the ruling government (which is a genuine possibility) and or
  3. There may be an internal power play within the echelons of government to discredit certain personalities.
  4. It is a combination of the above.

As an expert in Financial Regulation with particular emphasis in financial crime, I was quite alarmed and wanted to lure such criminals for the police to arrest them.

My limitation at the moment is that I live abroad, so cannot work in concert with the police and or other detectives to apprehend such miscreants.

I believe that writing an article about this threat will at least create awareness and alert the public and government to act.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to call the person parading as a minister of state on social media, “impostor”, just so I can protect the identity of the real minister of state. The minister of state will be referred to as “honorable minister” for clarity.

I am going to reproduce below the conversation I had with this imposter, from Saturday 09 March 2019 through to 11 March 2019.

Impostor: Good morning.

Writer: Good morning honorable. How are u?

Impostor: My family and I are doing great. Hope all is well.

Writer: We thank God.

Impostor: Glory be to God, Have I ever met you? What are your qualifications and what do you do as well?

Writer: (I forward him a snapshot of my LinkedIn profile.)

Impostor: Great. I have searched for someone with such qualifications to offer him or her proposal and it's seems you can be the one. Will you be interested in my proposal?

Writer: I am listening. (feigns interest)

Impostor: Since you are a Ghanaian, you know we lack Degree and Masters holders with such experience and qualifications as you and the board made up of Members of Parliament and Ministers have decided that they need someone with ideas and good Certificate to head an undercover project involving Bankers, Accountants, lawyers etc.

To teach and give their ideas for the project to be successful. And as an adult you know the benefits to get from this.

Writer: Please can I have your number. I am working on something like this, and I was looking for a chance just like you have proposed?

Impostor: Would have loved to do so, but due to the nature of work and time as well as my personality, am unable to give out my personal details or make out any transactions.

Beside, you can always get access here with me on my chat page.

Since my personality doesn’t allow me to meet people personally, I used this platform to interrogate with my citizens. Thanks for accepting to help me with your ideas. Now with that I will like to set a board under your leadership in order to detail the rest of the members to help with the issue at board and if you are able to do that I will award you with another post in order for the president to know of your ideas and abilities.

And for you to help, you should know how much you are worth in this and how much praises you will receive.

Writer: That will be splendid, I look forward to working with you Honorable. God bless you.

Impostor: Amen. First and foremost, I recommend you to purchase the ongoing government protocol project and development forms and I will personally endorse it for you.

With this, you will be an official member of the project and enjoy the benefits of it by your work and ideas. Purchase the government protocol project and development forms and I will get you endorse.

Writer: Hi Honorable, how do I get to purchase these forms.

Impostor: (0558082965) Interrogate with Mr. Emmanuel Abbey, the protocol appointment coordinator in charge of the secretariat.

Tell him I said he should add your name to the protocol list as well as get you endorsed with the protocol project and development form under my approval.

Call Mr. Abbey now to you with the purchase of your forms to secure it to my mail. Get me feedback immediately you get him.

Writer : I have just called him and he asked me to give him a call back in 5 minutes.

(Writer proceeds to call Mr. Abbey. On the call writer detected that Mr. Abbey spoke with a posh accent and seemed to emphasize on how important he was, so as to assuage and allay any fear and doubts any victim may have.

A cousin of the writer, who was sitting nearby, was convinced Mr. Abbey was genuine and spoke with a typical “NPP drawl”….. LoL.

Writer was not convinced and actually informed his cousin that fraudsters come in different shapes and sizes, and that the writer’s instincts were that, something was not right. )

Impostor: Thanks for your feedback as well as your information. He just called for verification and I confirmed it so do call him now and let me know if anything.

Has he started with you endorsement yet?

Writer: Hi Honorable, we are working on it. I will get back to you shortly. (Writer contacts Mr. Abbey, who then sends a form with the government insignia – coat of arms (everything on the form seems legit. It has an envelope which purports to be “confidential and Government business”

Impostor: Let him know I said since he is in charge of governmental documentations under protocol he should take your details now and endorse you formally. When he is done, he should forward your forms to me via my email address so I can guarantee for your forms to be officially approved and sealed today before the end of the day since yesterday was my last day at office for the week. Then ,my assistant will check on you on the day you will be available to meet me at the Parliament House for your other endorsement and signings on your project.

11/03/2019 08:15 am

Writer: I will politely decline your offer sir.

Impostor: Come again?

Writer: I will pass.

This is my conversation on WhatsApp with Mr. Abbey.

[10/03/2019, 20:05] Mr. Emmanuel Abbey: Hello, Mr. Frimpong

[10/03/2019, 20:10] Mr. Emmanuel Abbey: YOUR FULL NAME, YOUR DATE OF BIRTH, YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS,

AS WELL AS THE BRIEF PURPOSE OF PROJECT:

Writer: Thank u boss

Mr. Emmanuel Abbey: I will endorse your forms here, when am done I will forward it via Hon email address so minister can guarantee for your forms to be officially approved and sealed.

[11/03, 10:11] Mr. Emmanuel Abbey: Good morning.

[11/03, 10:30] Writer: Morning boss, Could you run me through the process again? How much is the form? What other steps do I need to follow?

Mr. Emmanuel Abbey: 750 cedis for the forms please.

From the ensuing conversation, I will advise the Public not to never give their full name, date of birth, email, home address etc. to anybody. This information is known as primary data.

Fraudsters use this information to duplicate identities that they could use against you and or use your profile to target other victims. At a point the writer had to delete his display picture from WhatsApp and other Social media handles for fear that Sakawa boys may use it to create other profiles to deceive the unsuspecting members of the public.

From my interactions with intermediaries of the minister of state, it seems that this issue is quite prevalent in Ghana and there is no antidote. The government of Ghana should have a robust strategy to combat this menace of identity fraud. If there was a compliant system in place, fraudsters will not be so daring as to target government ministers and parliamentarians.

This writer is an expert in financial crime and has written newspaper articles on Menzgold, collapse of banks and is currently about to finish a policy paper on Combating Ponzi Schemes and other Financial Malpractices in Ghana. The writer also has contacts with other experts in the field of fraud and Cyber security, and is more than willing to work with the government of Ghana to combat Cybercrime ( Sakawa).

Written by Kwadwo Kusi-Frimpong, a Financial Crime, Governance and Regulatory Expert, who has extensive Experience working with banks and financial institutions in UK and Switzerland. He holds an LLM from University of Law and is a graduate University of Ghana and Said Business School, University of Oxford.

Assisted by Emmanuel University (PhD University of Liverpool), Umar Mohammed (PhD Economics at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University) and Charles Brew, Graduate of University of Ghana, English and Philosophy Combined Major.

Kwadwo Kusi-Frimpong can be contacted at: [email protected]

Kwadwo Kusi-Frimpong
Kwadwo Kusi-Frimpong, © 2019

This author has authored 3 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwadwoKusi-Frimpong

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