The Cybercrime Unit of the Ghana Police Service has arrested the general managers of the Accra-based free-to-air (FTA) television stations AB TV and Amen TV for promoting activity by swindlers on their channels.
They were arrested in a special operation, aimed at clamping down on the people behind televised adverts who claim they can double money for clients.
The suspects will be charged and arraigned for promoting deceptive advertising, “because these are adverts they knew at the time of promoting that what the adverts purported to do was not true”, according to the Cybercrime Unit within the Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Fraud and extortion
The police said the action came in response to the increasing use of FTA television stations by people who claim to be traditional priests, or who work through international money transmission services and say they have special powers which enable them to multiply money.
The savvy fraudsters dupe unsuspecting people, who either send them money by mobile money transfer or meet them at agreed locations to hand over cash.
A number of suspected fraudsters also use social media platforms such as Facebook as a way of reaching their victims.
The director of the CID Cybercrime Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr Gustav Herbert Yankson, said the unit had observed that many TV stations were promoting the services of such fraudsters. The police had also received numerous complaints about the fraud and extortion of various “money doublers”.
“Some fraudsters have succeeded in duping their victims under the guise of doubling monies for them,” he said.
For the first phase of the operation, “We have started with the television stations which advertise or have programmes that promote the activities of these fraudsters who claim they can double money but end up duping people.”
Dr Yankson said the issue of people claiming to double money to make people rich overnight on television was becoming a growing concern and the current operation is intended to stop it.
He explained that some of the advertisements persuade people to send money to an advertised mobile-phone number, after which, they are told, they will get ten times the amount by mobile money transfer within five minutes of the original transaction.
“They claim they can hack into systems of some international money transfer services and multiply the money they receive from people. For example, they claim that within five minutes, anyone who sends a minimum amount of GHC100 will get CHC1,000 in return and if they send GHC200 they will get GHC2,000. And it goes on and on,” Dr Yankson said.
He said the perpetrators also claimed they worked through international remittance service companies to send the money to the victims but “the victims end up waiting in vain, only to realise they have been swindled, and then they rush to the police”.
To convince viewers, he said, the adverts include false testimonies from people who claim they hve benefited from the advertisers’ money-doubling prowess.
“Those testimonies are fake. It is just to deceive the public and, unfortunately, too many people fall victim,” he said.
The next phase of the operation, Dr Yankson said, will target people who submit such advertisements to television stations.
He said the two general managers will be brought before court while the operation continues.
He appealed to members of the public who have fallen victim to the activities of such fraudsters to assist the police in their investigations by providing information that will lead to the arrest of the criminals.