In the last decade the internet has become extremely important in the social field. From keeping in touch with friends and family, to meeting new people. With this trend, online dating and social media sites are every day more relevant in people´s lives all over the world. There is definitely a greater acceptance of using the internet to connect with new people, and with this new way to connect, comes significant risks. Many people are simply not aware of the risk and how to avoid them.
Some countries have excelled and have become leaders of the industry of fraud and scam. Ghana, Nigeria and most recently South Africa are now countries famous for having the highest rates of online crime. International private investigators estimate that the amount of criminals dedicated to internet fraud has duplicated in the past two years and continues to grow every day. Although online fraud happens everywhere, West Africa remains a base of operations for many online scammers. Nigeria and Ghana are ranked among the highest risk countries in the world for online scams. South Africa has seen significant improvements in battling scams online, but remains a high risk country.
Law enforcement officials and people familiar with crime rings in South Africa claim that criminal activity in the country is often conducted by foreigners, many of whom are actually from West Africa. Despite South Africa’s improvements and lowering risk for fraud, this influx of immigrants from high risk countries remains a risk for South Africa, the most developed nation on the continent.
Thousands of victims are still struggling to comprehend why or how the online relationship they had with an attractive and luring woman from the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia or elsewhere, resulted in them losing thousands of dollars, being blackmailed, or having their identity stolen. Some victims never even heard the word Ghana or Nigeria, only later to learn the criminal was based in West Africa. Some victims may never know where the scammer resides. Internet criminals are skilled con artists with accomplices in countries around the world, including the U.S. and the U.K. In fact, many Nigerian scams now originate from the U.K., being conducted by Nigerians in the country illegally!
Finding out if someone is a scam is not that easy anymore
Fraudsters have gotten better in the art of deceiving, probably too good, and they are not so conspicuous anymore. Their experience has grown and their stories are more believable.
The crime rings dedicated to online scam have more resources now than they had in the past. Online scammers from Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are now trained to be able to manipulate their victims. The life stories of the characters they impersonate have been designed to fool even the smartest people. They are well armed with fake documents, photos, software to modify and edit almost anything and tools to cover their tracks online. Scammers use local phone numbers, assume real identities, real addresses, etc. This way, when you try to verify them, you think they checked out. This is yet another reason why it’s important to leave the verifying to a professional investigator.
Many victims feel relieved when some kind of proof has been sent by the scammer, but the truth is that most of the times the “evidence” they get is no other than a forged passport copy, or an edited image of the supposed lady, or any other fake document. The quality of these images is usually so good that it takes a professional private investigator in Ghana, South Africa or Nigeria to actually verify the document with the country authorities to make sure it is legitimate.
Even the most skeptical and cautious can be a victim. Experienced internet criminals can hack into your computer, send you a virus, steal your passwords and identity, and blackmail you.
Con artists have done an extensive work with the selection of their potential victims, and have worked hard in gaining their trust through months or even years of online conversations. Online criminals are more prepared than ever, and more dangerous than ever. Scammers from Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have a complex system of people and computers, and sadly law enforcement from the victims’ home country rarely arrest or prosecute the scammers since they are foreign nationals.
Avoiding the risks is a matter of precaution
Scammers will make their best effort to convince their victims of their legitimacy, and they will also try to pressure them with deadlines and extreme situations where your heart strings will be moved. But even if you find yourself in the urgency of helping out, get a background check first! Dating background checks conducted by professional investigators in the country where you need them will help you get clear evidence, so you can make an informed decision and avoid being a victim.
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