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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
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Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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My friend in Accra,Ghana,ran out of money,and wanted to leave

Customer Question

My friend in Accra,Ghana,ran out of money,and wanted to leave the motel.But the manager claimed that He owns them for two more days,and didn't want to let my friend leave the hotel.The situation was unbelivable.My friend couldn't leave the hotel,so the bill was growing,the owner kept his passport. For me it seemed like the owner kept my friend hostage.Eventually,a third party wanted to vouch for my friend,and sign a document,that if he owns this much,he will send it back from States.The manager lead a personal vandeta,I don't understand,called police,and my friend ended in prison or jail?
What to do,it's terrible situation.How to get Him out?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jacustomer,

I already know that your friend in Ghana is someone you have met on an internet dating or social networking site who you have never in your life met on real time. His "friend" is also someone you don't know. I also know that you probably think that you and your friend are in love and will one day live happily ever after.

I am sorry to have to break this to you, but your friend is a Ghana romance scammer. The man you think you care for is not in trouble. In fact, he doesn't even exist. He and his friend are part of a group of West African scammers who spend day and night at internet cafes hiding behnd the photgraphs of attractive men and women looking to fleece caring and too-trusting people such as yourself out of all of their savings.

How do I know? It's really easy to spot a romance scammer. The second an internet person you have never met asks you for money, he's a fraud. It's really that simple, because it's nothing that a legitimate stranger would ever do,

Just back up from your emotions and think about it for a minute. If someone you barely know were to walk up to you on the street and say, "I think I am in love with you and want to make you happy for the rest of your life. Would you please pay my bills and my criminal legal expenses?" you wouldn't even consider it. In fact, you'd probably report him to the police. That's because in the real world, your life experience tells you that any stranger who does this has to be a panhandler or a thief.

It is no different on the web, though scammers work hard to make you believe it's different. Anyone can pretend to be anyone else, anywhere in the world and get away with it, thanks to the internet and today's technology. So everyone on the web is only a stranger until you meet him or her in person and see for the first time who he or she really is.

What scammers do -- and why it works -- is to rush their victims headlong into a passionate romantic relationship so that when the scammer has his first emergency and asks for money, the victim doesn't see this as an unreasonable request from a stranger. But in fact, it's quite unreasonable. In fact, even you used the word "unbelievable" to describe the happenings. That's because it doesn't add up.

I'm sure you have stayed at a hotel in your life and you already know that you secure your room in advance. This tall tale about the man in a Ghana hospital or Ghana hotel unable to leave because he didn't pay his bills is one we hear many times daily. It's not real. You can see this for yourself on the list of bogus excuses used by romance scammers. (See link) If he were for real, his Embassy would be assisting him with all of this because they would be informed.

If you don't believe me, try the following tricks, which can sometimes prove my point quite well:

1) Run each of his photos through Google's Search by Image and see if you get anything. It won't always turn up a scammer but when it does, it's really quite dramatic. You may find, for example that his same pictures are posted all over dating sites and facebook under several different names and profiles, When it works you will know immediately the man's a fake. If you can't figure out how to use it, you can upload your photos to this thread or send your photos to me via our customer service and I can do that for you.

2) Take some unique sentences at random from his love letters and just Google them. Sometimes you will get a hit that way too, because most scammers cut and paste their mail from previously written scam love letters and don't usually reinvent them for each new victim. That's why some of their correspondence may not correlate with what you addressed in your letter. Again, this won't work all the time, and if it doesn't he could still just be an unreported scammer. But it too works enough of the time so that you ought to check it out.

3) Familiarize yourself with the signs of a romance scammer because no matter who or where they say they are, romance scammers all follow the same general script, because they know it works. Here they are:

- the scammer reaches out to you on a dating or social networking website and he falls in love with you at first sight. His profile shows an attractive, well educated man with his own business and you can't believe your luck. If you/he is middle aged, he generally claims to be a widower with a son or a daughter.

- He moves in on you faster than a speeding bullet and sweeps you off your feet, rushing the relationship towards some kind of a commitment. He pulls you off the site where you met and tells you that he wants an exclusive relationship with you via webcam, skype, Yahoo messenger, etc. He talks of love, marriage, future and forever.

- He is in another country, not your own, for work purposes, usually, but not always as an engineer, a geologist, an architect or a construction or mining supervisor. Most often he tells you he's in Nigeria, Ghana or Malaysia, but he can claim to be in the elsewhere as well. He desperately wants to meet you as soon as he can. He may even refer to you as his wife or fiancee, though you've never met.

- And as soon as he sees that you return his feelings, the conversation turns from love to money and he has the first of an endless series of unfortunate events. He has an accident at work or a problem with his credit card, a theft at his hotel, or he's mugged on the street and needs you to pay his hotel or hospital bill, or his son comes down with something serious, or he has workers he must pay or legal expenses he must clear before he can see you or he gets arrested at customs. There are dozens of excuses, no one of them truthful. I have already linked you to a list of them, and you should look it over.

The money requests generally start small, but if you send him any the subsequent requests will be A LOT bigger.

Despite the fact that when you first started talking to him, he claimed to be a successful, well educated, wealthy, independent, self-reliant kind of guy, suddenly he doesn't have another friend in the world. Only you, he says, will be able to help him. And so he will ask you to wire money to West Africa via Western Union and will say that he will pay you back when he shows up at your door. But there will always be one more emergency. And it will always cost you. And he will never get a milimiter closer to the plane.

Cease all contact with the man. He's a West African thief and only out to steal your money. Report him to the FBI at and -- if you have sent him money thus far, to your police since you're the victim of a crime.

If some piece of your conscience remains concered that you are leaving him to languish in jail, contact his Embassy in Accra and tell them to do their job and look after him. But get out of this situation now so that you don't get hurt.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear Fran,I want to say something,but don't even know where to start.I guess I should say,Bright is really good at what he does for living....I am on his "hook"for about a year,and don't even have a decent picture of him.

The excuse was always the camera doesn't work,computers don't have cameras,etc.

He showed up on my skype,asking to be a friend.There was a picture of a middle age man.I ignored,finally curiosity made me give in.the picture dissapeared,I never thought of making a copy.

When later on I asked for a picture or come on skype,the answer was always the same.

Few months into our correspondence,someone send me an e-mail,stating that the man i write to is a scammer,and it is a friendly advice.there was no return adress.I send it to Bright,and notyfied our police. Police didn't seem surprised or worried.they know...there is many of them...

I called or e-mailed FBI, the same answer,there is many of them,stop the correspondence,the best advice.

Bright,got alarmed,and told me that we have a hacker on our computers,so to change my adresses,passwords,etc.


You see,I should be a mature women, and someone tells me to quit,because it's a scam,do You think i quit?

Poor Bright,got in trouble in the Army/that was his business/, because of me,because he was calling to often. the army apparently went home before Christmas last year,but not Bright,he couldn't leave Ghana because the Army had his documents....

You can see,I've seen the red flags, and still kept going. How could I refuse,he loved me more than whatever,and I was breaking his heart.

I even think that he was giving me a way out few times,but i did't take it.I wanted him???

There must be something wrong with me, i feel i was clinging to him,for what,for the few nice words? and of course sooner or later started the problems,one after another,that required money.

And I

I just like a puppet on a string,did what he asked for. i am not average American, am an first generation here,got married,3 childreen.The Father of my kids was a patriot,if You understand,Patriot of his country,Lithuania in Europe,and as soon as the cold war was over,the eastern borders open,left.

I raised my kids mostly alone,because before we devorced he was in and out.i know what hardship is,how hard i had to work to raise properly the kids ,support them with little income, and put them all on a good way of getting a better future. all are in college or university,my son finished few years ago, and went back again to pursue his dream.

they thank me for raising them the way i did,they know the value of money,they study hard to be the best, and work to provide for themselves.

the only one that forgot what is the value of money is,I gues,myself.

Your example,about meeting someone on the street,he claims he loves me,and asks for money,that example really hit me...

I remarried when my oldest was at the University,never dated,never looked for companion,My future husband was a single Dad at my daughters school,the girls had play dates,and after 5 years we married.

I was a decent woman,nothing but a Mother,brought my values from oversees-Poland, my kids and myself melted well into american society.

Fran,why am i writing this/Am i looking for excuse,forgivness,understanding? I have no idea,beside this that i must be SICK. To keep long distance relation for so long,spend my money,not savings,but every months income on bright,and my kids are always short.I didn't completely abondant them,was helping,though they ask seldom,it's more me,feeling that they are short.if they couldn't buy books,or pay one month for appartment.

But if we think,how much more good i could do for my Family and other people around me that are in need.

I am ashamed to even admit,how much money went to Ghana. All my money,loans,loans from friends,that i was not able to pay back,and my husband came to the rescue. I promised several time, that i am done,and few weeks later I was back to the same.

I had arrangements for him to go on the plane,of course it didn't happen.

Than was one attack of malaria after another,than ulcers,hospital,hotel,everybody seemed to keep him hostage till he pays his bills....???

There were so many disasters,that a dozen people don't go through all of them in their life time.I bet you heard it all before.

Who am I ??? St.Therese??/ I wanted to safe him from the miserable life in Ghana......

Too late i started reading about African countries,and Ghana. Sure it's still a poor country,but all sources that i read say that their political system is good,they are on the way to better economy,good people....

Fran,thanks for replying to my first letter.

I will not send any money to his recent friend,he claims he is a doctor,met bright in the hospital,and took him to his home,and from there he got arrested.

Clement,the friend,says,that if i can't help bright, lets just forget it.he has to serve his sentence,two and a half year.

i still don't know what is the sentence for? For not paying hotel bills?

Clement claims,that bright borrowed money from inmates to buy the necessities he needs in jail.Now it's up to me to give it back...Clement also borrowed him money, once it was said 200,the second time 300,i caught him on this.

Clement gave me the numbers to the prison=jail,so I can call Bright.

Bright always claimed that he is an American,from California, with a frozen account while he is abroad. he used to talk a lot about the army,and soon retirering.

one time,not long ago,when for the 10th time i asked how to unfreeze his assets,so he can help himself,there were always problems,and only he can do it while in the country. ok. So, finally I asked , Bright,does this account exist.....It took a lot of coaxing,Bright thats me,Regina, just tell me the truth, and he

did he forget that he is a scammer,or did he trust me?

Is it true that a Layer will not start a case without a 5000 retainer? It 's not even the prize in America.

I asked Clement,couldn't we find a legal aid,like here for people that don't have enough money? his answer was,no,yes we can ,but legal aid will not do anything till maybe after a year....And Bright is in jail 2 weeks,so we have only 2 weeks for the appeal. is that true?

Fran,what you wrote in Your response sounds so familiar,the questions that he never answered,the long intervals during the conversation,he probably wrote to few of us at the same time.

look,and I still feel sorry for him....I got completely crazy, believing that real love exists. I must be crazy,should seek specialst doctor for help,and maybe get locked up .

Fran,i have surnames,phones,hospital name,jail phone,asked for adress ,just yesterday,it didn't come yet.

You are a layer,are You in Ghana?

that's what i understood looking for answer ,yesterday.

Would it be possible for You to find out,if any of those adresses,phones are legitimate,who does the phones belong to?

I am not very good on computer,so i don't understand what you mean by google some of his sentences.

I have a couple pictures that he send recently,he is in army heavy uniform,so hard to tell,what he looks like.I know I have those on e-mail,so I could forward them.

Would You be interested to follow up on this,when I pass all the info,or are You fed up with me....Of course,i realize You don't work for free,but at least You work for the money that i would have to send you for Your help.

I feel i will not rest,till i know if there is any truth in the last developments concerning Bright. And is that clement a real doctor/I have name ,phone,hospital name.

Please answer,You can charge me for the last letter,and i give You the biggest smiley face I can muster....

Sorry,writing short,is not my strenght. I hope You didn't fell asleep...haha

I wish You a good day,send my greetings,THANK YOU ,and hope to hear from you again,soon.

My e-mail: [email protected]

Bye now,Sincerely,Regina Kammel-Laugalis



Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 3 years ago.

First of all, stop beating up on yourself. These romance scammers are very good at what they do. They make themselves seem to be everything that you always wanted in a man, and there's nothing so exciting as a whirlwind courtship that makes you think all of your dreams will come true.

This is why people fall for these scams. But now, you know better, and it's time to stop.

This is not a real man. He's just a profile that a team of thieves are hiding behind. Another of them is his "doctor."

Are you now saying suddenly he is in the Army?

If he's claiming to be in the Army try these. The first three are foolproof:

1) Ask him for his official military email address. His official email address is not classified information. A real US soldier may have a classified email address as well, but he also has a regular military email address with which he can write to his friends and family. Every soldier does and for security purposes, that's the one he's always supposed to use. When he gives his email address to you, it should end in .mil It will NOT end in .com It should read [first name.last name]

If the email address doesn't end in, he is a fake. Only US servicemen can get a .mil email address, and if he can't produce one that you can email him back and forth with, he's scamming you.

Scammers can fake that on the sending end and make it look like you are getting email from a .mil address, but it can't be faked on the receiving end.. So if he does give you a .mil address, to make sure his is for real, don't just hit reply and send it back, start a new letter and type in the address yourself manually. Then write a message and send it. If it doesn't bounce back as undeliverable and he actually answers it, then and only then, is he the real thing. This test is foolproof.

2) This is foolproof too. Ask him for his APO address. Tell him you want to send him a surprise and need to know where to send it. If he won't give it to you for any reason, he's scamming you. If he gives you an APO address it will look something like this:

PFC John Doe
23rd Battalion
Unit 1234, Box 56789

No location will be mentioned on the address. Soldiers in the field are not able to disclose their actual location to anyone. If you get one formatted like this, send him a letter and see if he gets it.

3) Get his name, social security number and date of birth and enter it here on the US Military's website. This too, is not classified information and, in fact, would be information he'd have to disclose if he were ever captured. The site I have linked you to should tell you if he is a soldier and then where he is and who his commanding officer is. If he won't tell you, then you know he's a scammer. He has no reason to refuse to give it to you. If he does but the site doesn't recognize him or contradits what he's told you, that tells you he's a scammer too.

I am a US lawyer. I know nothing of Ghanaian law or the rates they charge there. But I do know a great deal about Ghanaian fraud, and that's all this is.

There is no Bright. There is no hotel or hotel bill or hotel manager. There is only a group of thieves and everybody who knows this story sees this but you. It's time to stop fooling yourself.

Send your photos as an attachment to customer service at [email protected], and I can tell you what I find. In your email give me the numbers you want me to check out and I will see what I can find on a reverse international phone number search. Include the name of the doctor and the name of the hospital and number.

Once customer service sends it all to me, I will see what i can find and return to you here.