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Opinions of Monday, 18 May 2009

Columnist: Mills, Cynthia Ama

Sakawa / Financial Institutions

By Cynthia Ama Mills

(cynamamills@yahoo.co.uk)

SOCIETY IS under threat of a menace simply called SAKAWA in Ghana. Even before it could have its full toll on society, it is reported to have taken a new twist where Ghanaian youngsters have resorted to a skillful art of cyber fraud and as modus operandi are linking their activities to financial institutions.

Another twist to the scam is where any “Sankwas man” (a non-entity) claims to be somebody at some institution and would want to pull a fast one on anybody. Last week Wednesday, concerns were raised by Mr. Stephen Adu, Director of the Basic Education of the Ghana education Service (GES) about the dangers of Sakawa to the nation since the future of school children is at stake. He pointed to the fact that school children are patronizing the Internet cafes not to learn but to engage in Sakawa (cyber fraud) or if you life 419 scam originated by the Nigerians. He has called for interventions from metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to take up the challenge and intervene to salvage the future of our young people. Mr. Adu is not alone. Concerns have been raised by MPs and the clergy. The Most Reverend Aboagye Mensah, outgoing Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, has stressed the need for a legislation to regulate internet cafe operations in the country.

He said the current spate of the misuse of internet facilities by the youth to engage in various criminal activities should be a concern to all. He noted at the 48th Annual Synod of the Kumasi Diocese of the Methodist Church last week Thursday that the misuse of the internet was breaking the morale fibre of society.

He said there was the need for a national policy to regulate the operations of cyber cafes to limit their patronage by the youth.

He said Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was a necessity in the current global world but if care was not taken, its use could be disastrous to the Ghanaian society.

Rev. Aboagye Mensah said most Ghanaian youth were using the internet to engage in fraudulent activities, occultism and illicit sexual activities among other things that were very dangerous to the future leadership of the country. He said internet café operations should not be seen only as business avenues for profit making but a means to increase access to information and promote national good.

Dear reader, more scaring about the Sakawa issue is the fact that some personnel of our financial institutions are allowing themselves to be used for the scam. In fact, they appear to be part of this scam so is the police. I wonder if the police can help us fight this scourge. The police are suspects because I am aware of instances where reported fraud cases have been treated as “foolish case” without they taking the pains to investigate the merit of such  cases against hard evidence.

On Monday May 11, 2009, when I checked my e-mail, I had received a mail from one John Kwame, a branch manager of the Standard Chartered Bank. Taking into account the time the mail was sent, I realized that it was a Sakawa. The mail was sent at an ungodly hour of 5.34 am. I want to share the e-mail unedited with my esteemed readers to enable them to take the necessary precaution against Sakawa because it comes in different forms. Read on: Esteemed Compliments:

I anticipate that you read this mail quickly and let me know your opinion or willingness on this classified information that I will release to you. Firstly, I am a happily married man with 3 kids and therefore I would not want to jeopardize this opportunity to change my financial status that will give my family a secured future.

I am Mr. John Kwame, the branch manager of the Standard Chartered Bank of Ghana, First Light Branch Accra. I got your information during my search through the Internet. I am 48 years of age and married with 3 lovely kids. It may interest you to hear that I am a man of PEACE and don't want problem, but I don't know how you will feel about this, but I am telling you that this is real and you are not going to regret after doing this transaction with me. I only hope we can assist each other. But if you don't want this business offer kindly forget it as I will not contact you again.

I have packaged a financial transaction that will benefit both of us, as the Regional manager of the Standard Chartered Bank of Ghana, First Light Branch Accra; It is my duty to send in a financial report to my head office in the capital city Accra-Ghana at the end of each year. On the course of the last years 2008 end of year report, I discovered that my branch in which I am the Manager made Twelve Million Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollar [$12,850.000.00] which my head office are not aware of and they will never be aware of, Nor must they know that I am involved in this transaction. I have since place this fund on what we call SUSPENSE ACCOUNT without any beneficiary. As an officer of the bank I can not be directly connected to this money, so this informed my contacting you for us to work so that you can assist receive this money into your bank account for us to SHARE, while you will have 35% of the total fund.

Note there are practically no risk involved, it will be bank to bank transfer, all I need from you is to stand claim as the original depositor of this fund who made the deposit with our branch so that my Head office can order the transfer to your designated bank account. If you accept this offer to work with me, I will appreciate it very much. As soon as I receive your kind response, I will give you details on how we can achieve it successfully. Your contact telephone and fax is highly needed for easy communication. Best Regards, Mr. John Kwame. Branch Manager, Standard Chartered Bank, First Light Branch Accra, Ghana, Telex: +233-241878775, E-mail: kwamehn35@gmail.com. On May 13, 2009 one Mr. Omar Ahmed claiming to be the Bill and exchange manager and accounting director of the auditing department of the International Bank of Africa (IBA/BOA) at Burkina Faso on phone: 00226 78 15 60 06 also wrote to me per e-mail as follows: (confidential): My dear I am contacting you in regards to a business transfer of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make anyone apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction.

PROPOSITION; I discovered an abundant sum of $11.5 million Eleven Million Five Hundred thousand United States Dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customers who died along with his entire family. Since his death, none of his next-of-kin or relations has come forward to lay claims to this money as the heir. I cannot release the fund from his account unless someone applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines. Upon this discovery, I now seek your permission to have you stand as a next of kin to the deceased as all documentations will be carefully worked out by me for the funds $11.5M(Eleven Million Five Hundred thousand United states Dollars) to be released in your favour as the beneficiary's next of kin. It may interest you to note that I have secured from the probate an order of mandamus to locate any of deceased beneficiaries. Please acknowledge receipt of this message in acceptance of my mutual business endeavour by furnishing me with the following; 1. Your Full Names and Address and

2. Direct Telephone and Fax numbers. These requirements will enable me file a letter of claim to the appropriate departments for necessary approvals in your favour before the transfer can be made. I shall be compensating you with $4.6 Million Dollars on final conclusion of this project, while the rest $6.9Million shall be for me. Your share stays with you while the rest shall be for me for investment purposes in your country.

If this proposal is acceptable by you, do not take undue advantage of the trust I have bestowed in you, I await your urgent email.

Regards, MR.OMAR AHMED.

On May 14, 2009 yet another MR LAMBATA KALUNGA, the manager in charge of bill and exchange department BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A) wrote: In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of $15m US dollars. In an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in November 2004 in a plane crash. Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines but unfortunately we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving no body behind for the claim.

It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and I don't want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill. The Banking law and guideline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after five years, the money will be transferred into the Bank treasury as unclaimed fund. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkinabe can not stand as next of kin to a foreigner. I decided to make it that 30 % of this money will be for you as my foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, 10 % will be set aside for any expenses both of us made during this deal and 60 % will be for me and this 10% is for any expanses from your own side you make and from my own side I make during this deal, and when the fund is transferred we have to reduce the expenses we made from our pocket during this deal first before sharing the fund according to the percentages.

Then after I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages indicated. Therefore to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you as arranged, you must apply first to the bank as relations or next of kin of the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number, your private telephone and fax number for easy and effective communication and location where in the money will be remitted.

Upon receipt of your reply, I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as I have layed and noted that there is know risk involved, you should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter. Trusting to hear from you immediately. Please call me on this line +226 78 8 7 6 3 72.

Earlier on May 10, 2009 another Musa Kasim said he wanted an urgent response to this:

Dear Friend, I am Mr. Musa Kasim in charge of Auditing section in the Bank of African, I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($15.5 million US dollars immediately to your account. upon your reply I will send you the full details on how the business will be executed, send me your contact information..1. Age. (2)Residential address (3) occupation (4) private telephone. Waiting to hear from you soonest.

Do you, dear reader, make anything out of the above mails? God save President Atta Mills' Ghana! Â