*The following post has photos of real individuals whose identities have been stolen and are being used to defraud innocent young women. Please, if you know any of them kindly contact them and alert them on the fraudulent usage of their photos*
Fraudsters in Ghana have taken to Facebook as their hideout for duping unsuspecting individuals especially young women of thousands of cedis. ‘Cathy’ ( real name withheld for personal safety reasons) was one of such women duped from almost GHC 15K and she reached out to share her story to help raise awareness about their adopted strategies and to possibly save the next woman from their deception.
Cathy was checking in on her missed messages after staying off Facebook for awhile, when she saw a message from one Mama Tess who purported to be the mother of a 15 year old boy with access to his Facebook profile page. According to Mama Tess ( who claimed she lived in the United States), she sometimes monitors her son’s Facebook page to ensure he’s safe on the account. In her monitoring phase, she came across Cathy’s photo and thought to say hi. Her ‘fake’ son’s name is Brian Osei. She told Cathy that she had three sons . She also expressed interest in being Cathy’s friend and asked for her number for her eldest son who according to her lives in Ghana. Cathy refused and Mama Tess ended the chat by saying ‘later’.
Mama Tess came back after a month to say hello again and started sending Cathy motivational photos and little prayer texts and initiated conversation with Cathy. She then suggested how it would be really great for Cathy to meet her eldest son who was currently single. According to Mama Tess, her eldest son Lloyd Mensah ( fake name) had been in terrible relationships but he would appreciate just been friends at the moment.
This is Lloyd Mensah according to Mama Tess:
Mama Tess’s claim to have three son’s included Lloyd Mensah, Francis Osei and Brian Osei (last born) was made evident to Cathy in this photo.
The second son, Francis who Mama Tess said was in KNUST, would use his Facebook profile to post photos of himself on trips to Europe and shopping malls. However, it turned out that Francis had stolen the identity of one David Jones on Facebook and was using Mr Jones’s photos on his profile and Whatsapp. This is what he sent Cathy and what he was posting on his profile.
All this happened in May. Soon after, Lloyd Mensah created a Facebook account and added Cathy. Cathy and Lloyd started chatting on Facebook and Whatsapp. He created the impression of how his family didnt get a good start in life and how they struggled to make it.
After two months of establishing friendship with Cathy, Mama Tess texts Cathy to share the news of her trip to Ghana from the United States. According to Cathy, to create familiarity and a transparent relationship, Mama Tess and her sons were in constant communication with her but she never met them due to conflicting times. Lloyd would intentionally call Cathy whilst she was on her way to work knowing very well that she would be unable to meet them. Mama Tess also claimed to be staying at Trasaaco when she ‘arrived’ in Ghana.
The money extraction strategies started a few weeks before Mama Tess came to Ghana. Francis asked Cathy to ‘help’ him with fuel and maintenance costs of some vehicles they were going to sell in Accra with a promise to pay her once Lloyd and Mama Tess came to Ghana. She sent him GHC1,000 trusting that she would be paid back and also trusting him because of the length of online friendship created over a period of three months. They had also created the impression of being rich Ghanaians living in Trasaaco.
Another time, they claimed they had had an accident on the Ada road on their way to Accra after traveling to oversee an ongoing project. They contacted Cathy once again to ask if she could send them money to assist them sort out their damaged car. This was when Cathy started being alarmed. A red flag raised in her mind. She had already been sending Lloyd some monies for little expenses he needed sorting out.
Lloyd then came back to say they were looking to sell a Mercedes for nothing less than 30K so as to pay Cathy back. It was all a ruse.
Their promise to pay her back was followed by excuses of a bank credit card not working in Ghana and this was according to Mama Tess on arrival to the country. They constantly sent her messages that they were trying to work out the bank card issue and as soon as they did, she would get her money.
And then the issue of sending Lloyd money to buy a ticket to the States came up from Mama Tess still using her supposedly 15 year old son’s Facebook account; Brian Osei.
As Cathy started pressing and insisting on payment, they took on an aggressive stance. Lloyd Mensah deleted his Facebook profile and blocked Cathy and interestingly Mama Tess still was adamant on sorting this out. This was psychological taunting.
and after awhile same for Mama Tess. She was unreachable.
Somehow Cathy had noticed there was one mutual friend she had in common with Lloyd Mensah and she decided to reach out to ask of their mutual friend. After sharing her duped experience, it turned out that this other mutual friend had also been a victim of the alleged family and had been duped of almost GHC4,000. This mutual friend bemoaned to Cathy of getting several messages from strangers asking of her relationship with Lloyd Mensah only to be told they had been duped by these two gentlemen and their ‘Mom’.
The fraudsters adopted identity theft as a means of deceiving Cathy for over a period of three months. That’s their strategy. They also target young single women and send them photos of handsome men whose identity have been stolen. Interestingly, according to Cathy they had a foreign accent a.ka they were slanging but then again anyone can pretend to have an accent without even having to step beyond the shores of Ghana.
Its quite unfortunate this happened to Cathy but this could have happened to you or a friend. Could they have used sika eduro ( black magic) ? Hard to tell but let’s be careful with our social connections.
Anyone reading this should be extra vigilant on social media especially on Facebook. Before adding anyone as a friend on Facebook; check their profile for their place of work, which mutual friends you are connected to and ask your friends to verify their relationship with them. There are tools like Google Image Search which you can use to upload someone’s photo to search online where else their photo has appeared. This can also help to verify someone’s identity.
Please share this to raise awareness of such strategies being enacted out by dubious persons on Facebook.