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Opinions of Sunday, 5 February 2017

Columnist: Brobbey, Akwasi

The Impact Crew: Consumer Fraud In Ghana - 2016 In Review

Consumer fraud is misinterpretation in other to deceive consumers into falling
victims to the purchasing of inferior goods and services. Consumer fraud is on the
rise and as a matter of urgency and it needs to be curbed as it is causing serious
problems to many individuals and organizations. Victims of consumer frauds are
professional like teachers, doctors, lawyers, lecturers, only to mention a few so no
one should be labeled as culprits in relations to ones educational background. Many victims
are don’t report to the police service that they have been scammed, officials
estimate an increasing rate of consumer fraud in the country.

Basically consumer fraud is on the rise in distinguishing shapes and forms as
deceptive means of financial losses of consumers as it may seem legal. This practice
is unlawful and deceptive as it ruins lives and families. There is a misconception
with regards to those who falls victims to the challenging inhumane practice. Many
are with the believe that those who falls victim of consumers fraud in it numerous
forms and shapes are illiterates and ignorant to an extent but this is highly wrong a
s each and every individual who lives in this dynamic world can be victimized by
consumer fraud.

Microfinance scam; saving in a banking is quiet profitable but it tends to become a
tragedy when one invest his or her hard earned money in a fictitious banking
institution. These banks operates without genuine banking license from Bank of Ghana
(BoG) and takes advantage of consumers who may or may not be enlightened with regards
to the banking licensing. An individual should create an alert when he identifies any
banking fraud to the necessary authority that holds such cases. In 2016, Ghana experienced
one of the biggest consumer frauds in the banking industry which resulted in lost of
huge financial loss. The various banking institutions that were involved in these
scam included Diamond Microfinance Company (DKM) – GHS113 million, God is Love
micro finance only to mention a few.

Internet fraud; when today seems just like yesterday and the world has become more
global than before, a new era where something called internet pave its way into the
new world and the work of the postman was no longer recognized. When one good thing
is invented another is improved and as one thinks of how to make the world a better
place another worsen its existence. The modern day man is so dependent on the
internet for survival; research works, online library, work from home, and online office.

There is no doubt that the work of the internet has come to be of enormous
significance to man but when it is used for illegal means it turns to be a necessary
evil. Why is it that it’s mostly common in African countries and why is it that the
culprits are usually men in Europe and America.

No one should be quick to make judgments and label those who engage in these
activities as been with low moral standards. This practice has been in the system for
quite a while now but its tendency increases as men and women from all ages engages
in the practice. This act has been almost impossible to deal with because of the
state of the economy, moral standards, level of internet security only to mention a
few in these countries. African countries which engage in these countries include Nig
eria which was the first country to engage in such practice, In Ghana we refer to
these who engages in these activities as “sakawa boys”.

This ill-act is now popular in Ghana. I don’t blame them neither do I support those
inhumane acts. The fact is that, people will work really hard in the scorching sun
from dawn till dawn but still wallow in untold poverty. In preventing such acts, one
must never disclose his or her credit and number, check routing information or other
banking information to telemarketers or other solicitors. One should contact his or
her financial institution if he or she receives correspondence claims that his or her
financial account is been jeopardized.

Again, foreign lottery scam. This is mostly initiated by emails, telephone calls,
fax, and post mails claiming that a consumer has won a prize in a lottery. The victim
may be asked by the fraudulent operator to disclose his or her personal banking
institution or account details so that he or she may have the prize deposited in his
or her account with his prize in a form of cash.

The fraudulent operator will employ unauthorized means to withdraw huge sums of money
from the victims account. Also in some cases the fraudulent operator can ask the
victim to send money to a said account so that that money will be used Ithe
processing of the prize won by the victim. This type of fraud is mostly targeted to
the elderly. Be skeptical when been presented with alottery that tells you that you
have won a prize lottery if you don’t real participating in any lottery of such
form One of the means that can be adopted to curb such occurrences is that, one must
not provide his or her personal banking or financial accounts details to anyone who
may present him or herself in the form of being a lottery agent or whatever.

More importantly, fake local charities and N.G.O’s. Over the years human beings
have advance not only positively but negatively. Instead of aiding the poor people
and needy, they tends to take advantage of the cry of others and makes huge sums of
money from it. Fake charities employ different techniques to deceive other charitable
individuals or philanthropist. Before one donates to a charitable home, this is as a
result of the increasing rate of charitable institutions in the country.

Identity Theft; this happens an individual personal information like name, social
security number, banking credit card information or banking account number and uses
the stolen information to impersonate the victim in order to act in a fraudulent
manner, theft or other crimes in different forms. One will be advised to keep some
personal information’s like name, social security number and banking account number
personal and should not give it out to untrusted persons or may not make it available
to the public in order to avoid fraud is various forms and shapes.

Lastly Mortgage Frauds;this form of fraud is on the rise today as they are often
carried on by real estate and mortgage professional enabled by their supreme
authority. Consumers’ needs to protect themselves from these mortgage frauds by
seeking referrals and avoiding unsolicited relationship, checking licenses, and
consumers must walk away from any mortgagecompany that do not provide the necessary
documentation that certifies the company.

Akwasi Brobbey

(Senior writer and editor at TIC)