Scam Warning Signs
- Cash for "emergencies" – The Nigerian/Ghana Emergency Scam
- Someone wants to share a fortune – The Nigerian 419 Scam
- The Fake Kidnap Scam
- Cashing money orders
- Watch out for fake profiles
Remember the golden rule - NEVER SEND MONEY TO ANYONE YOU MEET ONLINE.
While most African singles looking for a date online are genuine, it cannot be denied that many online dating scams originate in African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana or Ivory Coast due to the low per capita income, high rates of unemployment, high rates of corruption and ineffective policing in these areas. The money extracted from victims in North America, Europe and Australia translates to huge fortunes for the scammers who are willing to put weeks or months of work into getting a good payout. Both men and women are targets. Many scammers are well educated and all are heartless so read on for common African online dating scams and protect yourself.
This is the most common scam in online dating. You might be interacting with a man, say, "William Jones" from USA/ UK/ Australia/ Canada or some other Western country. After some time, "William" has to travel to Nigeria or Ghana for some reason e.g. a business trip or to visit his child in a Nigerian boarding school or even a safari. Soon enough there is some sort of "emergency" with either the child suffering from a brain hemorrhage or "William" suffering a life threatening accident. You will then be requested to send a large amount of money for treatment and promises that you will be paid back ASAP. It's a scam, don't send a cent, cease contact and report the scammer. "William" is probably not even based in a Western country and is yet another Nigerian scammer trying to dupe innocent people off their money.
Scammers often use female profiles as well to fool their potential victim. Again, they pretend to be a woman from a Western country while all the while being based in Nigeria. They then solicit you for money for a charity they run in Nigeria or Ghana. In all likelihood there is no charity and you have been robbed off your money by a scammer.
Also known as the advance fee scam this is an oldie but a goody. Supposedly named after a defunct piece of Nigerian Law the 419 scam has been operating in various incarnations for years. The basic idea is that you're contacted by someone who has access to large sums of money and wishes to move them through your bank account. They might say that someone has died leaving millions or they might be a corrupt government official draining federal funds and they want to share this unbelievable fortune with you. All they need is a sum of your money to get things rolling or to cover bank fees. Whatever creative, captivating and greed inducing story you read know this: it's a scam. However much you send, you will never see the money again.
Taking advantage of the "dangerous" perception of Africa, scammers often create elaborate fake kidnap plans. Again, they pretend to be someone from a Western country, visiting Nigeria or Ghana for some reason. They are consequently kidnapped and you will be asked to urgently send them some ransom money to help them get out of the messy situation. Yes, this one definitely pulls on the heart strings because you will obviously want to do something to help but don't fall for it because it is simply a way to play on people's emotions and then scam money from them.
While cases like this are very, very rare, there is another variation of the kidnap scam. It is one of the most alarming of all online dating scam stories is that of Australian man Desmond Gregor who flew to Mali in North Western Africa hoping to meet his online sweetheart. Instead he met twelve men armed with machetes who held him captive, demanding ransom. Gregor was lucky to escape with the help of the Canadian Embassy. This is an extreme case of online dating scamming but should serve as a wake up call to all online daters; do you really know who is on the other end of that email or phone? Of course millions of people have flown across countries and continents to find the loves of their life but it's important to keep personal safety in mind.
Some scammers claim to be North American, European or Australian citizens working in an African nation such as Ghana, Nigeria or based in Lagos. The story goes that they are paid in money orders but are having trouble cashing them; could you please cash the orders and wire the money to Nigeria? If the victim agrees they will receive money orders that have been bought for a small fee, such as $20, and doctored to read hundreds or thousands of dollars. The victim will cash this order and send the money through an irreversible process such as wiring with Western Union as instructed by the scammer. A few days or weeks later their bank calls, informing the victim the money orders were fraudulent and that they are responsible for the amounts owing. Ouch.
You come across a profile of a young, attractive woman on an online dating site or maybe she contacts you. The photos are stunning, perhaps professionally taken or provocative, but the description of what she's looking for in a partner is vague. It could be a scammer, often a man, using photos downloaded from the internet in the hope of sucking in as many victims as possible.