Introduction: Combating Fraud in West Africa
The Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Justice Department’s Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch (CPB) are taking significant steps to combat fraud originating in West Africa and facilitated by criminal enterprises in the region.
In this article, we’ll explore their collaborative efforts to address consumer fraud schemes and protect U.S. victims.
Key Collaborations in Ghana
During their visit to Ghana, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao, Deputy Director Richard Goldberg, and colleagues engaged with various key law enforcement partners.
Meetings were held with organizations such as the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Office of the Special Prosecutor, and more.
The discussions aimed to enhance cooperation on investigations and provide valuable training assistance.
Fighting Cyber-Enabled Fraud in Ghana
A significant focus of the discussions in Ghana was on transnational cyber-enabled fraud.
The parties shared insights and lessons learned in investigating and prosecuting cases involving fraud and public corruption.
Strengthening collaboration and reducing the time it takes to share evidence were key priorities.
Tackling Fraud in Togo
In Togo, the collaborative efforts continued with discussions involving La Direction Générale de la Police Nationale and other law enforcement agencies.
The focus was on initiating and sustaining joint efforts to combat cyber-enabled fraud affecting Togo.
Strategies for improving communication and information-sharing mechanisms were explored.
The West Africa Consumer Fraud Initiative
CPB’s West Africa Consumer Fraud Initiative targets a range of fraud schemes, including romance scams, pandemic relief fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, and business email compromise scams.
The initiative aims to address both the perpetrators and money launderers behind these schemes, with a particular focus on protecting vulnerable U.S. victims.
Alarming Statistics: Romance Scams and Business Email Compromise
In 2022, the Consumer Sentinel database received nearly 70,000 reports of romance scams, resulting in losses of $1.3 billion.
Similarly, the FBI received over 21,000 complaints related to business email compromise schemes, with losses totaling $2.7 billion. These staggering figures underscore the urgency of the initiative’s mission.
CPB’s Role and Collaboration
In addition to prosecuting criminal elder fraud cases, CPB provides guidance and support to various U.S. law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
This collaboration ensures a coordinated response to fraud investigations with ties to the West African region.
Conclusion: Uniting Against Fraud
The joint efforts between the U.S. Justice Department’s CPB, the FBI, and West African law enforcement agencies signify a strong commitment to combat fraud and protect individuals, including vulnerable U.S. victims.
These collaborations aim to disrupt fraud networks and hold perpetrators accountable in the fight against consumer fraud originating in West Africa.