Internet Scam Alert
Embassy Lome has recently seen a spike in the number of Americans who have fallen victim to scams from individuals and/or companies allegedly based in Togo.
These scams vary from advance-fee scenarios where the targeted person is led to believe they can attain something of very great personal value (financial reward, a romantic relationship, etc) in return for a small up-front monetary amount, to e-mail solicitations from strangers who need funds for immediate medical care. The Embassy has also received reports of scams involving the purchase of passports or visas for online friends to come to the United States, and private adoption solicitations.
Beware of these Early Warning Signs:
- A stranger (someone you have never met personally) asks for money to get out of a bad situation or to provide a service.
- The scammer asks you to send money via Western Union.
- The scammer has incredibly bad luck-- often getting into car crashes, arrested, mugged, beaten, or hospitalized -- usually all within the course of a couple of months. They often claim that their key family members (parents and siblings) are dead. Sometimes, the scammer claims to have an accompanying child overseas who is very sick or has been in an accident.
- The scammer claims to be a native-born American citizen, but uses poor grammar or strange spelling indicative of a non-native English speaker.
- The scammer and the victim meet online – often through Internet dating or employment sites.
- Photographs that the scammer sends of “him/herself” show a very attractive person. The photo appears to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or photographic studio.
Please read the attached Department of State brochure for more information on International Finance scams (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/financial_scams/
If you feel you have been a victim of an Internet scam, please consult the above publication for help and send all direct reports of Internet fraud to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at: http://www.ic3.gov/ . If the scam originated through a particular website, notify the administrators of that website. If you are concerned about an American in distress overseas, but you are not sure if it is a legitimate case, call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) or Embassy Lome directly at (country code: 228) 2261-5470.