Internet fraud is an attempt by scammers to convince you to send them money.

We receive inquiries every day from people who have been betrayed for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars through internet contacts they believed were their friends or loved ones.

One of the most common frauds we see right now is the claim that a Gambian has lost his parents, is looking after younger siblings, and has no money to pay for school fees. The story is always very similar.

The common elements are:

Online advertising for friends in industrialized countries, allegedly dead parents who are looking after younger siblings, have to drop out of school due to lack of money. These elements exploit the Western value of education, trust and sympathy for orphans. There is very little variation on the subject.

It may be wise to ask why someone who has no money to go to school and supposedly cares for younger siblings seems to spend a lot of time and money in internet cafes looking for “friends” from rich countries online. The family networks in the region are usually extensive. So when a child’s parents die, the many aunts are uncles, grandparents, cousins, and other extended family members who take them in and care for them.

All of these scams have one thing in common: They contain (implicit or explicit) requests for money. You will be asked to pay money to help a friend in trouble. Sometimes the scammers do not ask for money right away, but instead present desperately sad stories that seem progressively deteriorating in the hopes that the victim’s compassion will motivate them to offer money without being asked. In either case, however, the ultimate indicator of fraud is that the victim is always being manipulated or asked directly to give money.

If you think you are a victim of internet fraud: Don’t send money. Unfortunately, money that you may have already sent is unlikely to be able to be reclaimed. Immediately stop all communication with the scammer instead of trying a direct resolution. If you feel threatened, contact your local police immediately. DO NOT try to personally recover the lost money. Contact the relevant authorities to resolve the matter.

If you believe you have been the victim of a crime in The Gambia, please contact the nearest police station. If the scam originated from a specific website, notify the administrators of that website.

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