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Shame, shame shame

E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Ghanadot

Criminal activity on the Internet has no boundaries and Africa is having a go at it at an incredible rate.  We have already put our imprimatur on “419”, advance fee fraud, as a uniquely African craft.  


Personally, the “419” scam has been a remote experience until I received this rather distressing email, purporting to have come from a friend and a fellow writer.  It read:

“ I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling for a program called Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, and Lack of Education. The program took place in three major countries in Europe which are Austria, Spain and England,I am presently in England.

I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money, and other valuables were kept. I will like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently. The total sum of money that i would need would be $2,200US Dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I will appreciate whatever you can afford, i’ll pay you back as soon as i return, Let me know if you can assist me? so that i can send you the details to use when sending the money through western union. Regards, Kofi”

The letter was not a bad email letter, at least, for one that was supposedly written in a hurry and under such duress.  Traditionally, the “419” letters have a safety feature in them:  They are written by mostly semi-illiterates.  That alone would prompt you to trash them, that is if you could get pass your greed.

The email purporting to have come from “Kofi” had no greed factor.  Rather, it played on your sympathy for a colleague in distress.  It promises no reward or gain, but it was equally pernicious like a “419”.  It was an effort that sought to take advantage of someone else’s reputation. The soft loan promissory statement would not be honored and the victim, this time “Kofi” would have had his reputation ruined.

The other victim would be, obviously, the sympathizer and the friend who had decided to offer a soft loan that would never be paid because the recipient was bound to disappear.

I had my doubts upon receiving the email, but decided to believe the story and to offer some contribution.  Truly, many of us on Kofi’s address list were the targets.  And I was almost taken had Kofi not called me.

Fortunately, he had gotten wind of the email being surreptitiously circulated on his behalf.

Before his call, I had sent a note to the criminal purporting to be “Kofi,” asking for details to complete the transaction, at least a portion of the amount sought.  It was just about this time when the real “Kofi,” in this case Kofi Akosah Sarpong, called to tell me that he was safely ensconced at his residence in Ottawa, Canada.

Kofi was not in Europe. I was relieved and embarrassed at the same time.  I wondered why I did not give in to my initial skepticism after reading the email. Why did I choose to suppress some useful questions that popped up in my mind?  How could a mature man and intelligent fellow be caught stranded overseas without any recourse to his immediate family at home for funds?  Or why did he not appeal to the conference organizers, at least for his hotel bill?  Or why did he not call me collect?

Obviously I did not exercise any of these questions until I heard from the real Kofi. 

Next time, I will make the first call myself.  And I hope you would too when you receive any letter purporting to have come from a stranded friend.  Call his home; he may be there instead of wherever the email says he is.  It is that simple.

E. Ablorh-Odjidja

Publisher, www.ghanadot.com

June 17, 2008






Web www.ghanadot.com

Shame, shame shame
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