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“He stopped chatting, he disappeared.” Although such a request might seem suspicious to a Westerner, “small transfers of funds between friends are a regular feature of relationships among youth in Accra,” explained Burrell.
This kind of ‘digital shunning’ was a common experience among the young Ghanaians that Burrell encountered; although the youth were following standard social norms, their foreign conversation partners seemed to misunderstand or misinterpret their intentions.
Burrell found that many young Ghanaians had difficulty seeing the social and cultural disconnects that separated them from the foreigners they attempted to befriend.
While chatting online, Fauzia mentioned “ok, my phone is giving me problems and I will be very grateful if you could send me money to get a better phone or if you could send me a new phone.” After repeating the request, “I didn’t see him online again,” said Fauzia.
“As the Internet was growing and spreading in the US in the mid- to late-90s, Ghana simply didn't have the bandwidth,” Burrell explained.
“And it certainly didn't have the public access facilities or Internet cafés that most Ghanaians needed.
One young Ghanaian, Gabby, got the idea to pursue online scamming from his friends. “Sometimes I would accompany them to the banks for the money.” Rather than email scams, Gabby’s preferred methodology was the online dating scam, colloquially referred to as the ‘come-and-marry’ scam.
Gabby and other young scammers would frequent online chatrooms or dating websites, building relationships with amorous foreigners.