Finally, because sex is a subject most of us don’t like to talk about with strangers, it tends to leave us flustered and unsettled when accusations are made, leaving us more vulnerable to making poor decisions, like paying an extortion fee.I was thinking about this story because Global Voices ran a fantastic piece on a disturbing new phenomenon happening online in Ghana and Kenya – gay personal ads designed to recruit robbery and kidnapping victims.
My friend hadn’t hired a prostitute, and contacted the front desk of the hotel, who explained that this was a pretty common scam.
The scammer hopes to reach a tourist who had hired a prostitute and saw himself as a potential target for extortion, or a person who hadn’t hired a prostitute but was sufficiently embarrased by the prospect of being confronted in a hotel lobby that he pays hush money.
On the Internet, anybody can be anything, so you really do not know who you are chatting with.
Some scams focus on building online relationships, then asking for money for help in an emergency.
A website for gay and lesbian traveller to Ghana, quoted in the story, explains that this has become a lucrative business for internet scammers: …there are some Internet cafes that are *completely* devoted to this type of activity.
It is truly a business, with finders fees paid for arranging a meeting with a foreigner, and 11 and 12 year old year-old boys watching pornography en masse and learning how to chat ‘gay’.