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27.05.2006 General News

Intelligence analysis to exposes operations of 419 agents

By GNA

Accra, May 27, GNA - Mr Khofi Kofi Owusu, Chief Executive Officer of Anti-Fraud Bureau (AFB) a non-governmental organisation on Saturday launched an advocacy campaign to exposes the operations of "West Africa Advance Fee Fraud" (419 fraudsters) in Accra.

The mass media advocacy campaign seeks to sensitise both local and foreign investors, offer intelligence reports to the security agencies and government officials and make Ghana unsafe for 419 operations. Mr Kofi Owusu expressed concern about the increasing practice of the fraud in the country and noted: "Ghana has become a citadel and safe haven for 419 operatives in the West Africa sub-region due mainly to the connivance of some security personnel and public officials. "Our hospitality has been over-stretched by other nationals in collaboration with self-seeking Ghanaians who have capitalised on the conducive business environment to operate both offshore and locally to dupe unsuspecting investors."

The Anti-Fraud Bureau, Executive noted that the core business of 419 operatives was to lure foreign investors and local entrepreneurs under the guise of doing business, saying: "The prospective clients are made to believe what is not true as true and what does not exist as being in existence...they play on the victims' lack of authentic information." "The victims are convinced to believe carefully crafted lies, which cannot be properly verified. They simply fall for the fraudsters' artful scheme."

Mr Kofi Owusu noted that Ghana was losing respect in the international community through the activities of fraudsters and drug peddlers and called for concerted effort by government agencies, non-governmental organisation and the media to expose 419 operatives. He cautioned dealers in the mineral industry, insurance companies, financial operatives, visa seekers, non-governmental organisations and religious bodies harbour-line operators and dealers in merchandise to cross check the background of people and organisations that approach them for business transactions. He alleged that fraudsters used their 'connections' in higher authority to frustrate police investigations, intercept investigative report, avoid prosecution, infiltrate into the judicial system and threaten the lives of victims.

Their actions weakens the national economies as they undermine the confidence of investors in doing business, evade tax payments and destroy the structures of national institutions such as the media, security, judiciary and other public officials. Mr Kofi Owusu said the AFB would launch a security intelligence educational book on 419 operations, which would enhance Ghana's image as an investor friendly nation, devoid of 419 operations. He said within the next four years, Anti-Fraud Bureau would organises sub-regional conference on 419 operations, launch websites to educate the public on the operations of fraudsters, publish a pamphlet "Fraud Alert" and strengthen the management of public response to the threat of 419 to mitigate the social-economic impact of the canker. He called for collaborative efforts in the fight against fraudsters and criminals as a shared responsibility among governmental agencies, civil society groups, the media, religious bodies and the business community.

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