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Kids And Internet Fraud

By Daily Graphic

Many teenagers in the Accra metropolis have taken to Internet fraud, with most of them spending long hours at cyber cafes so as to develop relationships online and eventually convince their victims to send them money.

These teenagers, very often, operate at small cafes in their neighbourhoods where most of the attendants or supervisors have little or no computer knowledge and also lack the requisite gadgets to monitor those fraudulent activities.

Recently, the Junior Graphic visited some cafes at Adabraka, Accra New Town, Nima, Maamobi and Madina to find out what children who patronise cafes do. Interestingly, the visit revealed that none of the children who were chanced upon at the cafes were using the Internet for studying.

A number of the children who were at the cafes said they had closed from school but confessed that they had not done their home work or house chores but instead had moved straight to the cafes with their friends to browse the Internet.

At Adabraka, for instance, there were students who were seen in their uniforms in the cafes after 7 p.m. Some of the children, who seemed to use the computers with a lot of ease were seen using various online services such as chat rooms, e-mail, message boards, adult websites (sites for dating and pornography), while a few played games online.

Some of the children revealed that after spending time communicating and building relationships with their victims, they then asked for assistance in the form of the provision of money.

The requests for money, according to them, could either be a one-time event or is repeated over an extended period of time.

In a chat with some of the children who are as young as 13, they disclosed that they usually posed as girls and then entered the chartrooms or dating sites to interact with foreign men and women.

When they establish links with their pals online, they said, some of them are able to use various means to solicit money from them.

The children revealed that the money they solicited was sent through the banks, and they either went with their parents or elder siblings to collect them since they did not have passports, drivers’ licences or voters identification which were requirements by the banks.

Ben, a 15-year-old boy at Adabraka, has been able to acquire a CD player, two Nike sneakers, an Ipod music player and a custom-made Chelsea jersey.

Paddy, 16, said he had been dealing in the Internet fraud for the past two years. He alleged that, his elder brothers were engaged in visa fraud (Sakawa) so it was easy for him to learn the tricks involved.

Explaining how the visa card worked, Paddy said his brothers allegedly had various cards which they used to obtain goods without paying. They even went to the extent of obtaining unauthorised funds from innocent people’s accounts.