And Here We Go Again...:
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
School scam raises bar on 'Sakawa' (Fraud/Scam)
Scam - Scam - Scam!!!
It started as an honest appeal to a foreign philanthropist to help pay for the education of a brilliant but needy student. By the time the drama unfolded, the American Good Samaritan had been fleeced of thousands of dollars.
A young man introduced himself via the internet as a brilliant student, who was on the verge of losing out on education, because he could not pay the high fees being charged at the Good Shepherd Technical Commercial School at Tema.
Incidentally, the Vice-Principal of the school provided the cover for duping the American philanthropist in a scam that has raised the bar of 'Sakawa' to another level.
Sylvanus Criss Paul, the supposed student [real name: Sylvanus Anku], and Mr. Lewis Sampson Krah (Vice Principal) had succeeded in luring the foreigner to remit over 10,000 United States dollars through the school account, for the purposes of supporting the education of (Sylvanus), but the money was never used for that purpose, as Sylvanus never stepped a foot in the classroom.
The two collected the money and shared the spoils. No education was involved during the scam. Sylvanus had snared his victim, Dr. Perry Malouf, with a well rehearsed pitiful story of his poor background, and how he and his sick mother struggle to even manage a meal a day.
Sylvanus had through his e-mail correspondence with Malouf expressed his desire to continue his education, but noted that his family lacked the financial wherewithal to support him.
Touched by this story, Dr. Malouf asked him to look for a school of his choice and furnish him with all the cost involved, so he could support him.
Sylvanus then sought the clandestine help of the acting Principal of Good Shepherd to produce genuine documents to their victim concerning the school and user fees.
After verifying from the Ministry of Education of the existence of the school, and with the involvement of the acting Principal of the school, Mr. Malouf became certain that he was now immune to any scam, and went ahead to begin wiring money for Sylavnus' education, through the school account.
'Father and son' would then cash the money and share the spoils. Their modus operandi was very simple. All they needed to do each time they needed money from their victim, was for the Acting Principal to draft a letter, using the school letterhead, and later scan it and mail it to their victim, however ridiculous some of the expenses and demands were.
In one instance, Mr. Krah and Sylvanus requested for and collected an amount of GH¢480 as funeral expenses for the supposed demise of one of the cadet corp. members of the school from their victim.
In an e-mail correspondence with Malouf on February 10th, 2011, Mr. Krah, who had now gained the confidence of Malouf, informed him of an impending educational trip by the school to the Ashanti Kingdom and the Northern sector of the country.
This supposed educational trip, Malouf was told, was to be by air and a whopping GH¢1,700 were taken from their victim. The correspondence between the Acting Principal and Moaf read:
“Good afternoon, how are you doing today? Well, I hope Sylvanus has told you about the upcoming trip the school will be having this month. It is an educational tour to the Ashanti Region and also to the Northern sector, and transport is going to be by air.”
Sylvanus and his Principal also continued to furnish their 'benefactor' with terminal reports and other genuine school documents to prove that Sylvanus was indeed a student. In other instances, Sylvanus took huge sums of money from his victim for his weekly school upkeep and medical expenses.
But, later, when the demands made by the duo became too much, Malouf became suspicious and, thereafter, reported the case to his friend in the states, who in turn, also informed his friend, Major Gyadu of the Ghana Armed Forces here in Ghana.
Major Gyadu then reported the issue to the Tema Community Two Police Station, where the two were arrested, but released under strange circumstances.
When The Chronicle contacted the proprietress of the school, she confirmed the story, but would not give any details, except to say that she had reported the incident to the police, and that anyone who needed further information should go to them.
Interestingly, when The Chronicle contacted the Tema Community Two Police Station, the Station Commander refused to divulge any information concerning the case, except to say “we are still investigating the issue, and we will come out with something very soon. I can assure you that we are seriously working on the issue, contrary to what some people are telling you.”
When this reporter enquired if there had been any arrests made previously in connection with the case, the commander again refused to answer, insisting that giving out this information would jeopardise their investigations.
Strangely again, the Station Commander politely refused to give this reporter her name after the interview. When this reporter enquired if giving out her name would also jeopardise the investigations, as she had constantly insisted, she smiled, and almost laughing said: “you go and write that you spoke to the Commander at the Community Two Police Station. Everybody knows.”
When this reporter said he was leaving, the Commander commented "I know what your headline is going to be: the uncooperative Police Commander, but you know, call me again next week, and by then, I will be able to brief you on the case.”
Giving details of his contact with his swindlers, Malouf told The Chronicle that his first recollection of contact with Sylvanus was only a short e-mail message he received from Sylvanus. “I do not know how he obtained my e-mail address,” he noted.
In that e-mail, Sylvanus introduced himself and later asked for assistance. He then engaged him in e-mail dialogues over a few weeks. He told Malouf he lives in Tema, in an unfinished housing project with his aunt.
He said that his father had run off, and his mother had passed away, and thus wanted help to continue school.
Malouf noted that since he had been defrauded before, he was cautious about the approach, and told Sylvanus that he would only pay the tuition expenses directly to the school.
He further requested that Sylvanus furnished him with the name and address of the school, and the name of an officer of the school, and other details such as a well-defined course of study.
“I began sending money directly to Sylvanus via Western Union, to help with food and other basic expenses. Sylvanus eventually sent me information about the Good Shepherd Technical School, and gave me the name of Mr. Krah, the school Accountant.
“I spoke with Mr. Krah on the phone a few times. I told him what I was planning to do, and he gave me the necessary account information so that I could wire tuition money directly to the school account for Sylvanus,” he narrated.
Malouf added that he then called the Ministry of Education in Accra to confirm the existence of the Good Shepherd Technical School, and to confirm whether Mr. Krah was employed there. “Since I had confirmation about the school and Mr. Krah, II felt confident that I could go ahead and fund Sylvanus' education. I wired money directly into the school account, for tuition and other expenses,” he said.
At other times, he said, Sylvanus complained about getting ill and also of not having good food, so he asked him to open a bank account so that he could wire money to him to cover medical expenses, and to pay for better food.
“I was under the impression that some of his illnesses were caused by poor diet. I did wire money to Sylvanus' bank account several times,” he noted.
“I received e-mail, supposedly from Mr. Krah, concerning various school fees that needed to be paid. One fee had to do with a lab experiment, and another had to do with a field trip to the Ashanti Kingdom. I wired money to the school account to cover these.
“I received additional e-mail messages, supposedly from Mr. Krah, containing Sylvanus' report card and other updates (such as his playing for the school soccer team). The report card attachments seemed official, as did the letter describing the field trip to the Ashanti Kingdom.”
Malouf said he began to be suspicious when Sylvanus found and added him as a friend on a social network, Facebook.
“I began to notice that he was on Facebook during school hours, and I asked him about that. He said that he can connect to Facebook using his mobile phone, in between classes. This raised my suspicions even more,” he said.
He said it was later that his military contact lured Sylvanus to a location where he was apprehended.
Source: The Chronicle