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In public Facebook groups, fraudsters share scripts, called "formats", to run their scams.
There are day-by-day formats for every scam: among the hundreds found by Four Corners were military formats, sick mother scripts, lotto formats, gay sex chat formats, sugar daddy formats and "trust and love" scripts.
Same for the names, imagine that a scammer creates a profile on a dating website with your full name.
You would probably face trouble because your name would be associated with a scam.
For Kweiku, romance scams are a transaction, not a crime."A client is somebody, a business partner who brings you money, that's why you use the word client," he told Four Corners."Some are divorced and some — their husbands are now dead."Kweiku sells perfume on the streets of Ghana's capital, Accra, to maintain a meagre income between Western Union transfers from a woman he seduces online.
He poses as a US soldier called 'Johnny', an online persona built on stolen photos, fake ID and stock scripts with storylines about urgent emergencies that can be solved with cash."Sometimes I'm in Palestine, sometimes I'm in Iraq and we are helping keep peace in that country because there's a war going on," he said. I want somebody to be my lover, my fiance."Kweiku's current target is a Mexican widow in the US.
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These are the foot soldiers in a global scamming enterprise that's breaking hearts and stealing billions of dollars.
"Sometimes I'm tempted to believe so, my friend." Cafe boys like Mohamed, Kweiku and Skidoo are the bottom feeders in a global enterprise which has spread from nearby Nigeria."Those who indulge in this as the perpetrators — most of them are unemployed," Abu Issah, acting head of prosecutions at Ghana's Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), told Four Corners."But they are very intelligent because it takes someone with an intellect to sit down and even fancy how to get into this activity and to hoodwink someone."The FBI reports formidable crime organisations which originated in Nigeria have spread to more than 80 countries and are making billions of dollars a year from scams alone.
We post below a table with information about the scammers you could meet on the web.
You will find the photos used and the names used by scammers on online dating sites.
He considers her a prize client."She can't really hear that I don't have an American accent because she's not really a white person," he said."She doesn't have the education and she's not fluent in English, so I was lucky enough to meet somebody who wasn't.
"I proposed to her, and we were getting along but I wanted some capital, so I asked her for money.
If you have been scammed by someone called John Smith, you’re not going to retaliate against the first real John Smith you will find!