Fraudsters in West Africa show Vice how they use internet scams to steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims all over the globe.
While Nigeria’s 401 scammers may have written the book on West African internet fraud, their shtick looks like Compuserve compared to what’s going on in Ghana. Unsatisfied with the meager winnings from emailing thousands of random Westerners in hopes of convincing one poor sap they’re the treasurer of the Ivory Coast, Ghana’s scammers decided to stack the odds in their favor the old-fashioned way—witchcraft.
Taking a page from cyberpunk, traditional West African Juju priests adapted their services to the needs of the information age and started leading down-on-their-luck internet scammers through strange and costly rituals designed to increase their powers of persuasion and make their emails irresistible to greedy Americans. And so “Sakawa” was born.