What you are about to read will shock you, appall you and make you want to scream for justice. More than that, it will have you rushing to every elderly relative to ensure they’re not about to be the next victim of the worst scam on the planet; a scam that even has its own school.
Yes, a school; a school full of kids who don’t learn science or history or math like other kids, they learn how to rip off innocent old ladies.
Remember the Ghanaian wealth scam emails?
If you’ve been alive more than five minutes, chances are a stranger has emailed you with a simple and extremely exciting request. They’re sitting on a fortune – usually in the millions or billions – and this immense amount of money needs to be transferred to your account.
The reasons for this transfer vary from email to email, but all are about as believable as “The parrot’s started to repeat my password. Provide bank details or I kill the parrot.”
Luckily, most of us are well and truly onto this scam by now, but we still need to keep a careful eye on elderly, vulnerable relatives, particularly if they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing online.
Here’s how it goes…a well-intended family member tells grandma to create a Facebook page so they can keep in touch with family. But what have they really created when an 80 year old widow is now trying to work out what ‘Post to Facebook’ means and a man named Alfred has just sent her a friend request.
And Alfred, 75, a divorced gent from Leeds, UK is actually an 18 boy from Accra, Ghana.
Meet the Sakawa kids
That’s what they’re called, but to be blunt, they’re teenage catfish and they go to a highly specialised school. Sadly, today’s lesson isn’t about history or algebra; it’s about frisking lonely souls of all their money.
How? Simple. These impressionable kids are put in the hands of devious mentors who fill their minds with dreams of money, fast cars and luxury lifestyles. Whether these kids care for right or wrong ceases to be an issue – they just want to get out of poverty and the lure of big bucks is enough to banish morals in favour of an evil, but highly lucrative trade.
They are taught the skills to pose online as elderly men with stolen identities and they rob every last dollar from needy old folk through a cruel and highly calculated process of flirtation and enticement.
This process can go on for months with flowers, cards, poems and all manner of romantic bait to lure a lonely person into their false world before going for the hard luck money request. First they build trust and then the pleas for financial help begin.
Is it really a school?
Unfortunately, yes. But here, the English lessons teach a language of deception and the IT classes are all about the tricks of misinformation technology. The kids are handpicked for their potential to become articulate, computer-savvy criminals.
What’s more, they don’t hide their stolen wealth; they wear it with pride in the form of designer jeans and expensive jewelry. Worst of all, they rarely get caught as unregistered laptops can be dumped in a flash.
How serious is the Sakawa catfish issue?
Action Fraud received more than 4,500 romance-related fraud complaints in a single year with a whopping 50 million pounds swiped from vulnerable senior citizens. That’s a staggering amount, but the real story is far worse with so many victims ashamed to admit their folly.
What can you do to protect seniors around you?
Well, you can try to monitor internet use if that’s not seen as annoying interference. Otherwise education is the next best thing. Acquaint anyone who may be open to romance fraud of the risks and warning signs – if someone asks for money, that’s a massive red flag.
If anyone you love might be the victim of catfish, contact me immediately.
This article was originally published on the ABI webiste. https://www.theabi.org.uk/news/school-where-teens-learn-to-scam-lonely-british-women
My private investigation organization specialises in these exact situations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0418 728 771.