In the past several months, I have noticed an increase in issues regarding Ghanaian “friends” who were met over the internet, or who are cyber dating through internet dating websites. Some questions are posted to this forum, and you can scan through the issues to see the ones I refer to, while others have emailed me directly for my advice or thoughts, as I am an American living in Ghana and married for 17 years to a Ghanaian. Many questions have to do with the sincerity or veracity of the “friend” from Ghana, who urgently needs either money or the shipment of goods to him or her here in Ghana.
In the vast majority of cases, all of these poor innocents were being scammed or conned by the Ghanaian friend, whether male or female, it mattered little.
I have heard that the Ghanaian needed $400 for a new cell phone which was stolen, though you can buy a new activated cell phone here for as little as $35. Someone else needed work boots and other items sent to him, shipment of which would cost $400 from the States (truly very very expensive to ship to Ghana), and all those items are easily obtained here in Ghana. Someone else needed $300 because her father was having eye surgery; the cost of a normal doctor visit is less than $5, surgery may run about $100-$140, if that. Someone else needed $3,500 for their mother’s funeral… funerals in Ghana are not like funerals in the US, and while I don’t know the cost, I know for a fact that “donations” by mourners at the end of the funeral period usually more than cover the cost of the funeral outlay. But no way is it near $3,500 unless perhaps the person who died was a village chief or something. Anyway, I am sure you are seeing a pattern here. It is gimme, gimme, gimme.
There are several websites that now have information about cyber-dating scams, and I am listing them below.
Here is some more common sense advice.
Google their “name” and see if you get any hits.
If they are white claiming their Americans born and “stranded” here, don’t believe it. Even if you see a picture, it’s one they downloaded from the internet. Want to know what they really look like, ask them to go to a cyber café that has web cam and IM you at the same time; all the big internet cafes here in Accra have it, BusyInternet, SmartNet, etc. It is not expensive to do that, maybe like $2.
If the issue is an unpaid doctor or hospital bill, tell them you will send money only to the hospital. Go to Ghanaweb.com and check the directory/phone book for a listing, don’t believe what they tell you.
Tell them you absolutely won’t send them any money, see how fast they drop you.
The bottom line is, don’t lose your heart, your head and your wallet over an internet romance. Tread cautiously.
I invite others to post here with their experiences, to save someone else from real grief.