March 24, 2012

Throughout the years Ghana has been a significant threat for scams and fraud over the internet. According to the U.S. Embassy in Accra, a total of 540 emails from American citizens are sent to this institution every year asking for help and loss recovery from internet dating partners, penpals and people posing as potential investors or business partners.  The risk is high in Ghana.

Connections are often made via online dating websites, as well as social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  Americans are among the primary targets, along with the U.K., Australia and Canada.  Many users of websites like Facebook and are not aware of the risks, and are especially vulnerable when users share personal information via these websites.  Experts warn that identity theft, internet fraud and romance scams typically hit those people and companies that are an open book on the internet.  When criminals can easily learn about you and who you are, then you are at high risk.  The more you share, the higher the risk.

According to Ghana private investigators, it is anonymity that has helped these fraudsters to keep committing scams over the internet and get away with it, as most profiles shown are completely fake, and pictures are usually taken from another profile or website on the internet.  Internet criminals in West Africa now use phone numbers, addresses and profiles from other countries, such as the U.K. or the U.S., so victims may never know their true identity.  In some cases, when people post sufficient information on the internet, a criminal may use that information to steal their identity, taking their name, photos and date of birth, and even education and employment from Facebook, for example, to start scamming other people around the world.  The result?  When victims or potential victims try to verify their online dating partner, everything seems to check out, because the person exists, and all the information is a match.

What consumers and businesses don’t know in many cases, is that West Africa criminals and Ghana scammers can assume the identity of any person or any company worldwide.  And, they can do so convincingly.  It no longer takes a fool to be a victim.  Scam approaches are becoming more and more sophisticated and difficult to detective.  In many cases, it requires the skills and resources of a professional private investigator to determine if the subject is who he or she claims to be. 

Victims from online fraudsters in Ghana can lose a lot of money, once the criminal has gained their victim’s trust they come up with endless stories or schemes to empty the victim’s pocket. On average a person can lose from $5,000 to well over $50,000 USD from dating scams.

Private investigators and law enforcement agencies agree that it’s important to hire a reputable investigation firm to conduct an
international background check for cases involving new relationships, personal or business, that are formed over the internet.   Expect to pay a realistic price for a real investigation, where professional investigators are on the ground and verify all known information about an individual or company.  Generic database searches and website offering “background checks” for $39.99 are a fraud if they claim they will be conducting an actual background check investigation.  No investigation of any kind, period, can be conducted anywhere in the world for less than $100 USD.  Private investigations can be costly, but they are an excellent source of insurance to know who you are communicating with is honest and real.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2012 S. Birch

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, S. Birch, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as stated.