In my last post, Ghana Fraud: Man Victimized by African-Based Lonely Hearts Computer Scam Spends Tens of Thousands, I wrote of how my friend, Ronnie Robinson [not his real name], had been scammed out of some $50,000 over several years from scammers in Ghana.
This is Part 2.
Ronnie has been the victim of this lonely hearts-style fraud for years. He spent money he could barely afford to spend and in time went into debt. It is my opinion the money went to a group of men in Africa posing as a woman in love with him, named Nancy.
They used pictures and video of a white woman who supposedly is Nancy.
I had to intervene last week. It was my second intervention.
But before I did last week’s intervention, I intervened a few years ago. I wrote about this in a previous article in the Niagara Falls Reporter. However, in order to get the backstory, I am republishing much of the material, since most readers did not read the originals. Then, in Part 3, I will add the new material that occurred since these stories.
This scam is real and continues to this day around the world.
Here is what happened:
I found out from Ronnie that he had given thousands to a woman in Ghana. I told Ronnie that this was a scam, but he did not want to believe me. He insisted Nancy was real and that she loved him. Ronnie was 72 at the time.
By the time of my first intervention, Ronnie had spent more than $6,300. Now he needed more money to send. He asked me to lend him money so he could get his true love from Ghana to the USA.
In fairness to Ronnie, he had been alone for years. All his friends wanted to see him find a nice woman, but all of them knew it was not Nancy.
All Ronnie needed, he said, was just an additional $1,200 for “pocket money” for Nancy. He had bought her ticket and paid for the other expenses to bring her to the USA, [totaling some $5,500.]
He thought she was coming on the next plane. But Nancy texted him that immigration authorities required her to have $1,200 in cash in order to leave Ghana. Ronnie did not have $1,200. So he asked me to lend it to him. He was desperate.
This is when I intervened.
I learned that Ronnie had never actually spoken with Nancy. The sum total of their relationship was him texting someone who texted back, who said her name was Nancy. He spent hours texting back and forth.
He had some Skype chats with her, but the audio never worked. The Skype chats featured Ronnie live and on which his voice could be heard. On the other end in Ghana was a silent Nancy. She would also text while she was seen on Skype.
I told Ronnie that it was likely a video that the scammers showed him.
I asked and Ronnie gave me Nancy’s number. I texted her, telling her I was Ronnie’s uncle, and that Ronnie would not be able to send her the $1,200.
Nancy texted back, calling me “uncle,” saying “my heart cries for Ronald always” and if Robinson did not soon send the money, she would be evicted and, once she was out on the street, “wicked Ghanan men will rape me and kill me.”
I texted the scammer to see if I could “steal her away” and show Ronnie that this was just a scam.
I wrote: Too bad we did not meet first for I would send you the money to bring you here and meet me, but you love Ronald too much.
Nancy: Can you tell me your name?
I wrote: Winston Groovy.
Nancy: Winston, as you tell me that Ronald says he will not bring me there, so when you bring me there, I will come and stay with you.
Groovy: But you love Ronald so much. I want a woman of my own to love only me.
Nancy: But Ronald has disappointed me so how can I give him my heart again so try to care about me and I will leave here and be with you.
Nancy then asked if I would do a video call, via Skype.
A Skype account was created under the name Winston R. Groovy. Within seconds, a video call was in progress.
When I accepted the call, a grainy video of “Nancy” appeared.
She smiled and appeared to be typing on the keyboard.
I greeted Nancy, but there was no sound on her end.
As Winston Groovy, I asked her to enable her audio, so I could hear her.
Nancy, in the video, smiled, and appearing responsive to the question, was typing.
Then I got a text from Nancy: My internet is very bad here. Because my internet bills has due. You are such a nice man. I am sorry i don’t have microphone. My internet is very bad here.
Groovy: You are too beautiful.
Nancy: And you are also nice man. Can you tell me something about you?
Groovy: I sold my hotel and my restaurant, and now have retired and looking to meet a nice lady to be with 4 ever. How about you?
At this point, the grainy video disconnected and we were left to text.
Nancy: I was born in South Africa in a city called Cape Town but due to some problems i am now in Ghana. I was living with my parents. And we was having a relative in Ghana and she was my Grandma and my parents said that we should come and pay her a visit. And we arrived in Ghana safely and my parents said that they are going to the Royal Mart to buy some items and unfortunately they get a fatal accident and they died. So because of that I was not able to return to South Africa and I was living with my Old Grandma and my dear I also lost my Old Grandma through a disease. And i use to sell some ice water at the roadside and also at the market but the fridge which i use to sell the ice water destroy so i have stop selling it and i am at home always.
This is who he thought he was texting. Groovy: That’s so sad. You need to have a change of life, you poor, dear, adorable woman. Such bad luck for one so beautiful.
Nancy: Oh my dear. Life is unfair to me
Groovy: Maybe it will get better real soon
Nancy: Really? Tell me more about you.
Groovy: My parents were living in Buffalo, and they had an unfortunate fatal accident. But they left me a considerable fortune, as my dad was a lawyer connected with the embassy in Japan. With my money that I inherited, I moved to Walla Walla, Washington. Now I live alone, my wife died four years ago, and I am so lonely and no one to share my money with.
Nancy again appeared on Skype. It seemed to be the same grainy video. She appeared to be texting. Sometimes smiling, sometimes looking off to the left. Sometimes a few strands of her bangs would fall over her right eye.
Nancy texted: i am sorry about your wife issue. And is part of life.
Groovy: Do u like me?
Nancy: Yes. Do you also like me?
Groovy: I like u very much sweet woman.
I decided to test whoever was texting me and showing me the images so I wrote: will u pull your hair up for me now so i can see what it looks like?
The video of Nancy disconnected.
I [as Winston Groovy] continued on video.
Groovy: Nancy I got to go to a meeting. I got to count my money before I go.
I pulled out a wad of cash and counted it on camera. I wanted to show the scammers I had money.
Nancy texted: But will you also do me a favor?
Nancy: My dear, I want you to send me small money through Money-gram so that I can use it to buy foodstuffs. And I will be very happy about it.
Groovy: How much do you need?
Nancy: My dear how much can you send me from your own heart so that I will use it to buy some foodstuffs and I will thank you and appreciate it.
Groovy: How about I come to meet you in Africa? I can leave on a flight tomorrow. I will buy you food and anything you need.
Nancy: Ok but I have to pay my rent fees because my time has due and the best is for me to be with you in USA because I don’t like Ghana.
Groovy: And what will you do when you come to me?
Nancy: I promise that I will do anything you want me to do. And love you always. We have travel agency here to help peoples and can help me to be with you safely without any problems.
Groovy: Oh joy. How soon can you come and how much do you need and will you be with me 4 ever my darling?
Nancy: As for me I don’t know the exact amount but I can get the agent information for you so that you can contact him and talk to him so that you will know everything about it. As for now send me the amount for some foodstuffs so that I will know that you care about me. Try to go to Moneygram after the meeting….
The topic of money came up very quickly, and the scammer did not hesitate to ask for cash by Money-gram. This was the same method of payment used in Ronald Robinson’s case.
A quick Google search of the terms “Nancy in Ghana,” and “Nancy Scam in Ghana” revealed many photos of Nancy, and hundreds of reports of victims being scammed. According to these reports, the name and images of Nancy have been used since 2008, with over 700 people making claims they were victims of the “Nancy” scam.
The photos and videos (which purport to be Nancy texting live on Skype) are actually those of internet porn performer “Lana Brooke” who is said to be a favorite among scam artists because she looks “All American” and “Corn Fed”.
Brooke herself has spoken out on the issue, according to reports, claiming her photos were stolen and used for the purpose of defrauding people on the internet.
Brooke posted “PLEASE BE AWARE; I’M NOT ON ANY DATING SITES. DON’T GET SCAMMED!! IT’S NOT ME. I AM NOT IN GHANA, I’VE NOT BEEN CAPTURED BY PIRATES OR IN JAIL. ALL SCAMS!! I AM CANADIAN, COME ON PEOPLE!!”
According to www.scamwarners.com, the scam originates from a group referred to as “Gang Scammers,” “Yahoo Boys,” and “Sakawa.” The practice of Sakawa originates from Ghana and combines modern internet-based fraud practices with traditional religious rituals. Some of the internet scammers use ‘magic’ rings when they type on keyboards, and bring the menstrual blood of their girlfriends so they can become successful internet fraudsters.
The scammers are encouraged by some in their community because it generates revenue in a village riddled with poverty. The scammers are living lavish lifestyles. Some of the elders, however, are concerned, saying it will be the downfall of their community.
The government of Ghana officially condemns the scammers but it is clear that it is becoming difficult for the government and Muslim clerics, chiefs and elders of the Zongo’s to control the ‘sakawa’ or internet fraud now prevalent in the ‘zongos’ or Muslim communities in Ghana.
The videos are typically prerecorded, such as the case with Lana Brooke, aka Nancy, in which the scammer uses the same 2 or 3 minute video in a loop, playing it over and over again making it seem that you are actually engaging in a video call.
Later in the day, Nancy again started texting me.
Nancy: Where are u? I wish I am there with u now. So try and care about me and i will leave Ghana here. When you bring me there I will come and stay with you.
Groovy: Tell me what u need my lovely.
Nancy: As for now send me the amount for some foodstuffs so that i will know that you care about me. send Moneygram to Luvas Wiafe, Kumasi, Ghana. She is a certain sister who live in our house and she is my friend and she work at the bank.
A few hours passed then Nancy again texted.
Nancy: But you did not send me.
Groovy: Did u not get the money?
Nancy: You have not give me any information about the money you send me. Answer me.
Groovy: Yes I sent it to you
Nancy: Send me the receipt now.
Groovy: (using the name of the internet porn performer, whose image they were using to pretend to be Nancy) I paid it to Lana Brooke, $2000
Nancy: (Not catching on) Where is the ref numbers? Answer me.
Groovy: I don’t think you understand. I am aware of you cheating lonely, old men…
The texting ceased and I did not hear any more from Nancy.
However, she soon afterward started texting Ronnie again…
Ronnie always received nice girl pictures of Nancy.
I found these porn pictures of Lana Brooke, who was clearly the same woman he believed was Nancy.
I showed them to Ronnie.
I asked him “how come your nice girl posed like this?”
He said, “they must have forced her to do this.”
Despite my showing Ronnie the websites [see below] that reveal that Nancy is not in Ghana but is actually a woman who calls herself Lana Brooke, a porn model in Canada, Ronnie chose not to believe me.
As you will see in Part 3, Ronnie continued to send money [tens of thousands] to Ghana.
Somehow, no matter how much he sent, there was always some complication that prevented Nancy from arriving in the USA. She always needed a little more to get there.
One of the saddest notes of this affair is that Nancy told Ronnie that his uncle [me, as Winston Groovy] tried to steal her away from him, the only man she truly loves.
For a moment, Ronnie was deeply hurt to think I was trying to woo Nancy from him. I tried to explain that I certainly was not trying to steal Nancy from him because there is no Nancy.
That Nancy probably looks like this:
And not this:
He finally said he believed me after I showed him the internet porn pictures. And I extracted a promise from him that he would not send any more money to Ghana without contacting me first.
His desire for this imaginary woman, whom he had spent years texting, was too much for him, however. He would spend so many lonely nights texting Nancy. And he began to do it again.
And he continued to send money.
This time, to increase the money they would get, the scammers sold Ronnie a brand, new story.
Nancy had an attorney to help her and this attorney informed Ronnie that Nancy had inherited a million dollars in gold which would be Ronnie’s since he was going to marry her.
Ronnie and the attorney, a man named Frank, would often speak on the phone [But Nancy was never available by phone somehow.]
As we shall see, Ronnie was told he would get the gold as soon as he paid for the tax on importing the gold in the USA. Nancy would bring it with her so that Ronnie would not only get the girl but would be wealthy too.
Stay tuned for Part 3.