a VirtualTourist member
I recently obtained a pen pal from Ghana/Tamale, I would like to assist him in pursuing his education and just help out his family. I have been looking into western Union for money transfers, is this the best way that you know of to help them?
I am sure that companies such as Western Union can help you out with money transfers.
However, for fear of offending you, how do you know that this person is genuine, and that the money will be used for the purpose that you believe it is intended for? 419 scams (named after the section of the Nigerian legislation which is used to prosecute scamsters) are rife - particularly in West Africa - and ruthlessly exploit kind hearted people like yourself who want to make a difference. Maybe your penpal isn't like that, but how can you judge from a distance and over a short period of time?
I have lived and worked throughout Africa for over twenty years. If it were me and I were considering helping someone with their education (which i've done on several occasions), I'd ask for proof of registration at a recognised educational institution and then I would deposit funds into that organisation's account on their behalf to cover tuition fees. That way, you have proof that the money was paid and there is a much lesser risk of funds going astray. I would also ask to see exam results or assessment reports on a regular basis, and only release more funds once the student can prove that they have completed a course or a year of schooling, which incentivises them to do their best and also provides you with confirmation that your money is being put to good use.
Google is your friend in this regard, and with a bit of research, you should be able to confirm the legitimacy of schools or colleges who will be able to help your friend achieve their potential as a result of your generosity.
I am afraid that I agree with GyuriFT. People who are already asking for financial assistance based on a short acquaintance would tend to ring alarm bells with me.
I fear I must agree with both members above.
You should be very, very wary indeed of sending any money until you know a great deal more about your correspondent....and most especially so if he has asked for funds (or asked by implication).
Personally, I do not think that directly sending money to an individual is the best way forward until you have considerably more information. But if you are set on this perhaps you could arrange to pay his school fees (if any) direct to the school?
I have heard bad reports about Western Union money transfers, my Bank warned me not to use them.
It,s a pity that African counties have this reputation with scams but I would also not be giving money to the person directly. Maybe you could send food parcels or clothing but I would be very wary with cash.
Well, kind person, - I am as nice as the next fella but, the hair on the back of my neck says that this is in the 96th percentile that this is a scam.
DO NOT SEND MONEY TO ANYONE DIRECT WITHOUT PLENTY OF DOCUMENTATION, AS MENTIONED ABOVE.
I have spent many a good time in Ghana, and Tamale is a bustling anf growing city "up north", - but the need of whilst you speak would not likely be in the city, but is possible in the northern villages. I love the people there, but like any other country/region, it has more than its share of scammers.
Coming back here with an "oh no, I know him and trust him blah blah....." without some serious backup, will not likely persuade us. When a scam that is very similar to what you describe, - has its own name, - "four nineteen", then it is time to do some serious soul digging. If I had a buck for every person who has written us about some bride/groom/friend/aquaintance/financier/boyfriend/girlfriend in the Nigeria to Ghana region of Africa, - I would have a downpayment on a condo........d:o)
My most recent "windfall" via a letter from Spain - how do they get my name and address? A relative of mine with a very German name added Williams onto the end calling himself s....-Williams and died in hurricane Katrina leaving 10 million dollars. The guy in Spain suggested he keep 5.5 mill and I could have the remainder if only I give him my Bank details!!!
First, as the others have pointed out already, this is most likely a scam, especially if you had no earlier connection to that pen pal. Second, you do NOT help an African family by sending food and clothes. I know that a number of people holidaying in Africa or volunteering make a point in bringing clothes over to leave them to "the poor". The practice of donating old clothes or selling them on second hand markets has brought down the African textile industry. It is cheaper to buy bitume clothes on a market than buying fabric and possibly hiring a seamstress to make a dress/suit etc - which means further loss of job opportunity and income. same goes for food - donating food (other than in a famine or other emergency, and then please leave it to the pros) destroys the market of local farmers. Plus, given the costs of shipping food that people might not even enjoy because they have a different staple diet is simply uneconomic.
I’m disgusted by all the comments I read here. helper071961 is looking for an answer to his/her question and the only thing you all are telling is that it is a scam and not trustworthy because HE is asking for money. But when you read the question correctly nothing is mentioned that the person in Ghana is asking for money. All these prejudices about black Africans make me sick. I also have pen pal in Africa and we learned to know each other via a legetimate and official way and maybe the person in question also did. So stop judging before you know the complete story and start looking at your self because these answers are a reflection of yourselfs.
BTW Western Union is a safe option, but an expensive one.
I find your accusations against me deeply offensive. You know nothing whatever of me nor of my beliefs nor my motivations.
If you visited the forums as regularly as many of us do you would recognise the issues raised by this post, because they run up so often.
My comments have absolutely *nothing* to do with the penpal's location or assumed ethnic heritage and absolutely *everything* to do with the words 'recently obtained'. I would post exactly the same caveat for a newly-acquired penpal from any country.
I would not advise anyone to send a 'recently-obtained' penpal money.
And if a major Bank says that Western union money orders are to be avoided then I believe them.
I am somewhat offended as well. We did answer the question. There are not many ways to do so. If you had seen the sheer number of those questions that we get, and it is only if we are wrong, that the person comes back and says so.
To turn this into a racial issue is seriously ill thought out. These scams run through many many non African countries. I love the continent, and am frankly happiest in the very country of Ghana. I said so, but also said that as much as I liked the country and its people, it is not immune to the scam cartels.
You might want to visit my pages, and come back and call me predjudiced against black people. G'head! I dare ya!
Good call, Erik.
I could do exactly the same but the evidence is not on this site (or any other).
Knuppel, you can save your "disgust"... "sick" about prejudiced people here, eh? You seem to be an expert on African affairs, because you have an African pen pal? oh yes, I can see you are almost in the same league with the people who have been repeatedly on a beach holiday cum safari anc consider themselves old African hands. Maybe you should check the people who are answering here a bit closer before playing the Racist card. I have been living in Africa for four years now, I have African friends, neighbors, colleagues. I love the continent and her people. Does not make me blind to the foul apples. And fact is, when after a short contact someone asks for money, my alarm rings - would be just the same with a pen pal from Russia, Romania or Brazil, to name just a few examples
@[VT member b4522], save your contempt for people who deserve it.
I have lived and worked throughout most of sub Saharan Africa for over 25 years - and your credentials in this regard are ...??? Since you have not filled in your travel map, we cannot know, but I would hazard that your experience is neither as lengthy or varied. But let's not let the facts get in the way of our moral outrage.
All of the responders have given measured advice based on the information provided which has all the hallmarks of a 419 scam.
You - and nobosy else - raised the issue of racial prejeudice - just remember that when you point a finger at someone else, four fingers point back at yourself.