Internet Scamming in Ghana

it’s Thomas. We’re in Ghana, the internet
capital of Africa. If you ever wonder what happens
to computers that you donate to one of those green
e-recycling programs, this is basically it. Kids from the north of Ghana
come to this junkyard during the summer to break computers
down for scrap and also inhale things that will probably end
up giving them cancer of the everything. THOMAS MORTON: Most of the
computers are only worth the dollar or two of copper you
can melt out of them. But occasionally you harvest
something useful, like a hard drive or a processor, which
you can sell at the little flea market area next to
the charnel grounds. THOMAS MORTON: Ah, OK. If you’re an especially savvy
shopper, you can actually put together a full working computer
here, one ready to connect you to the fastest
internet in all of Africa. [MUSIC PLAYING] THOMAS MORTON: Ghana puts a
lot of stock in computers. Their internet is directly
linked to Great Britain’s, and they are billboards all over
the capital, extolling the virtues of personal computing. Ghana already is sort of the top
dog of West Africa, where most of its neighbors have
been plagued by war and poverty since independence,
Ghana’s had almost 50 years of stability and growth. Right now they’re hoping
foreign investment will bolster a computer industry
here, which will permanently make them the tech capital
of West Africa. So far it hasn’t quite
materialized, but what has materialized is a thriving
underground economy of fraud and witchcraft called Sakawa. [MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC PLAYING] THOMAS MORTON: Sakawa dates back
to Nigeria’s oil boom in the late ’70s. Ghanaians came into the country
to take jobs in the oil fields, and the locals
taught them their favorite pastime, the pen-pal scam. The way it works is you write
to someone in America or England, tell them about an
investment opportunity you have, or just straight up ask
them for money, and they send it to you, and that’s
it– scam over. Eventually the Nigerian
government deported all the Ghanaian guest workers back
home, and they brought the pen-pal scam with them. Then they combined
it with magic. THOMAS MORTON: As the internet
took hold in Ghana, the pen-pal scam was adapted
to email. Then scammers started hooking
up with hackers online and incorporating things like credit
card fraud into their scams, which became increasingly complex and lucrative. We kind of like the idea of
making a living off the back American stupidity, so we hooked
up with a Sakawa gang, led by a young Ghanaian
named Sefa. THOMAS MORTON: And now the
term just gets used– THOMAS MORTON: –for
everything. THOMAS MORTON: Sefa’s a
Sakawa success story. He’s used his old scam earnings
to pay for business school and has made a nice
living for himself by Ghanaian standards, although he still has
to cross a stream of urine every night to get
into his house. Sakawa comprises any number of
online scams, but the majority boil down to two basic types. One, you pretend you’re a sexy
girl, convince someone to fall in love with you, and then
they send you money. This is called the
romance scam. The other one is, you use a
stolen or forged credit card number to buy something
online. Then you have it shipped to
someone in the West who sends you money for it. That one’s called the
shopping scam. These two scams sort of
work like templates. Once you nail down the basics
of them, you can start combining them and adding all
sorts of personalized details until your mark feels like he’s
in the middle of some elaborate international business
scheme and not just emailing back and forth with
an African kid on a laptop. The thing with Sakawa is while
it’s essentially free money, it isn’t easy money. To find someone gullible
enough to fall for your shtick, you have to spend
hours and hours emailing hundreds and thousands
of random addresses. THOMAS MORTON: In America,
frustrated gamblers will kiss a lucky penny or pray to Saint
Bernardino for help. Likewise, frustrated Sakawa
boys turn to religion when they’re down on their luck. Only in their case, turning to
religion means driving out into the bush and paying
a juju priest for magic email powers. [DRUMMING] THOMAS MORTON: I’m definitely
in Africa right now. Juju is the local term for what
fancy anthropology types call traditional African
religion. In the same way that Hinduism
is actually more or less a collection of thousands of local
deities and rituals, juju is basically an umbrella
for any West African religious practice that isn’t obviously
Christianity or Islam– or Scientology. One aspect central to all forms
of juju is that the spirit world is morally
neutral. As in the gods don’t give a shit
what you and I do to each other as long as
they get paid. This makes juju perfect
for Sakawa. If you want a leg up on the
competition, you get a juju priest to barter with the
spirits, and then they give you powers. So the point of the juju
ceremony we’re dancing in isn’t to win converts or
teach some sort of a lesson like in church. It’s to demonstrate the priests
ins with the spirit world and advertise
his powers. Powers like channeling a god
who can’t be cut by knifes. Or channeling another god,
who likes throwing eggs. Why is he throwing eggs? THOMAS MORTON: Why, why
does he throw them? THOMAS MORTON: Oh. Waste of powers. The flip side to all this is
once you make a deal with the gods, you’re bound
to their terms. If you piss them off or default
on payment to your juju priest, you end up with the
opposite of powers, like bad luck or AIDS. On top of that the payment
process itself can be pretty tricky. THOMAS MORTON: Westerners may
find stuff like magic eggs and tampon eating a little hard to
swallow, but it’s serious business over here. And not just with like
superstitious bumpkins. Even educated, cosmopolitan
folks like Sefa believe in this. THOMAS MORTON: Besides, is of
any of this really that much weirder than shit like communion
or circumcisions? [CRYING] THOMAS MORTON: That part
was a little rough. [MUSIC PLAYING] THOMAS MORTON: While Sakawa
originally referred to a very specific type of internet fraud
mixed with juju, then it went on to mean any internet
crime involving witchcraft, and now it’s kind of evolved
into its own full-blown subculture. So there’s Sakawa music, Sakawa
movies, Sakawa cars, a Sakawa style of dressing. THOMAS MORTON: Right now Ghana’s
in the throes of Sakawa mania. It’s in all the papers
and movie theaters. It’s bigger than rap. I’m looking for Sakawa movies. Oh, cool, here’s number three. If you want a glimpse at just
how deeply Sakawa’s penetrated the public consciousness,
check this out. They’re already up to “Sakawa
Boys 8,” and the series just started last year. We’re on our way to meet a guy
who makes films about Sakawa. His name is Socrate Safo. He’s actually like the Martin
Scorsese of Ghanaian internet, fraud-based, gangster films. The Ghanaian film industry, or
Ghallywood, operates on kind of a “more is more” principle
of movie making. They crank out hundreds of
titles a year, most of them shot on zero budget in as
quickly as a couple weeks from start to finish. This speed doesn’t do much for
production values, but it does allow them to respond to current
events and to cater their subject matter to their
countrymen’s exact interest. THOMAS MORTON: Realistic. Things drawn from real life. -Ain’t you got nothing
better to do? You asked for it. [LAUGHTER] THOMAS MORTON: Socrate’s movie
touched a nerve in national psyche and brought the issue of
Sakawa to life for a lot of Ghanaians who otherwise wouldn’t
have heard of it. [MUSIC PLAYING] THOMAS MORTON: Since being
thrust into the mainstream, though, Sakawa has drawn a huge
outcry from government officials, tabloids, and
Christian preachers, whose billboards in Accra are almost
as ubiquitous as ads for computer classes and
juju priests. THOMAS MORTON: While the furor
over Sakawa dominates the tabloids and pulpits, the focus
is all on black magic and blood debts and Sakawa boys
turning each other into goats and snakes. None of it tackles the root of
the problem, the fact that over a third of young Ghanaians
are unemployed, and what jobs there are are filled
by corrupt government officials and their cousins. THOMAS MORTON: Up until now
the government’s been more than happy to turn a blind eye
to Sakawa since it’s basically providing regular work for
people that they can’t. There are also persistent rumors
that Sakawa isn’t just limited to gangs of teenage
delinquents, but is actually a popular sideline among
policemen, soldiers and politicians. THOMAS MORTON: Now that’s
Sakawa’s threatening Ghana’s business reputation, the
government’s cracking down. And them and the press have
started a moral panic over it. Just like gangsta rappers in
the early ’90s, Sakawa boys have gone from objects of sort
of cultural fascination to scapegoats for all their
country’s ills. [MUSIC PLAYING] THOMAS MORTON: The end of Sakawa
may not necessarily bring juju Armageddon to Ghana,
but it will leave a bunch of angry young men without
any source of steady income, which is arguably
even scarier. On a lighter note, Ghana just
discovered oil off its shore, so maybe that’ll solve
all their problems. [MUSIC PLAYING]

100 comments on “Internet Scamming in Ghana”

  1. Flow Systems says:

    Africa is the third world still, notice how these countries are completely black still, no multi-culturalism at all, white folk don't want to live with them for obvious reasons. Vice have to put sub titles on the video even when the Africans are speaking in English. LOL That's how ridiculous these people are.

  2. Clearfield says:

    Yes anyone asking for money or services is a scammer. Here's a video on how to dodge a dating scam:

  3. Melvin says:

    I would’ve done the same in their position. It’s either scamming relatively rich people via Internet or starving

  4. Joseph Patton says:

    Homo Erectus is not extinct, just renamed sub saharan african. When you and your fellow countrymen have an average IQ of 70, I do not consider you to be homo sapiens.

  5. Er boro says:

    I was almost loosing 100 euros holy shit and I am a scammer too now,they’re game is very good

  6. Er boro says:

    The reason why they scam it’s cause they’re clients are all outside Ghana in places like un French Italy Spain…and there is no way to arrest a scammer from another country ahajaj

  7. then benagcz says:

    U deserve to root in Nigerian prison all scammers!!

  8. Pranesh Pariyar says:

    Why is he throwing eggs?
    Because he likes eggs lol..! 😂

  9. Kirk Lazarus says:

    “Is this this shit even worse than communion?”

    Shows baby being held by 1 arm and forced to drink alcohol.

    yeah i thinks its worst than communion.

  10. a l says:

    Poverty… gg

  11. mohd.abu83 says:

    No doubt these people are poor..

  12. CrashedUpZach says:

    why do the juju have no chins wtf lmao

  13. fitnessand Self-Care1 says:

    Was that alcohol he gave to a baby. Piece of shit

  14. real deal says:

    White people are fearless. I would not mess with those Africans!

  15. Nunaya Doxing says:

    Prince Allure Shmezbut wont be happy with them going public and bringing the royal committee under possible backlash.

  16. Terry Thomas says:


  17. James Bowyer says:

    It's been 200 years since colonization and you fucks still can't repair a prebuilt bridge. Blame it on the white man but you fucks can't figure out how to get rid of child soldiers and slaves. Fuck the "Motherland"

  18. RoadRunnerPaco says:

    The government tried to ban me from the dark web

  19. Cal says:

    I enjoy playing with these morons from their shit hole country. I play along with them for a little while then I curse them out. Love wasting their time

  20. Joseph J. Ibbetson Jr. says:

    Hope they rot in hell for all eternity.

  21. G0ddess Kelly says:

    The Juju priest holding that baby by one arm like that made me have such bad anxiety

  22. chriss Whites says:

    Why negros desperate to live in America?

  23. Fuzile Gama says:

    I really like the reporter's dance moves with the juju

  24. matte says:

    10:15 casually holding a babys arm while boozing it, i'm into black magic

  25. Helen Poku says:

    Use your brains positively. Work with your hands and stop converting what is not yours. Also there’s time for everting. Have patience

  26. Natsu Dragnell says:

    Boy please y'all niggas acting like white people are the fucking devil

  27. Linda Richard says:

    yo do not give that guy ur kid lmao

  28. Emmanuel Mithamo says:

    At 14:47 did I just see a skeleton with bugs bunny voice?

  29. cool south says:

    Yes. It's weirder than communion.

  30. Frank Marano says:

    Dat sekawa 4:3 ratio dohh! 10:56

  31. Frank Marano says:

    After watching Hamilton in the amazon.. ghanda actually looks very nice in comparison lmao

  32. Ali Muhammed says:


    The new superman

  33. Nicole Jessica says:

    Fuck Ghana. It's mostly elderly people who fall for scams. Lazy evil fucks.

  34. Wafelwaffel says:

    Show a christian this video and he'll tell you this is crazy, but then goes to church to basically do the same

  35. Lovely 111 says:

    Actual a Black American has a big part in creating the internet.

  36. Randy Mi says:

    8:09 This man got scammed out of his chin

  37. Zeek M says:

    Demoniacs posing as the holy are nothing new to me.

  38. Sedia Bonsu says:

    Forget SAKAWA, how about an in-depth report about the amount of human ritual murder involved in witchcraft sacrifices where they kill people and chop their bodies up for supposed magical benefits? This is rampant across parts of Africa, there hasn't been so much pseudo-religious human sacrifice anywhere in the world since the ancient Hebrews or the Incas. That's a report I would like to see! And these guys are speaking about it so matter-of-factly: "taking your child or your daughter to the fetishist", excuse me??? And witchdoctors using human blood in their spiritualist scams?? VICE don't drop the ball on this one please, folks are dying by the thousands, someone has to break this story!

  39. Fanfire101 says:

    Holy Communion is ALOT less weird than throwing eggs for the God of egg throwing.

  40. Leen Plays says:

    Imagine them burning a rtx 2080 thinking it’s useless 😭😂

  41. Leen Plays says:

    What if belle Delphine is a boy or a scam ??

  42. taz santiago says:

    Holy SAKAWA!!!!!
    @7:43 👀🐓💨= 🏃🏿‍♂️

  43. John Moore says:

    They have to go through 100s of random emails until they get someone to go for the scam! So they prospect? They could just sell things!

  44. Nicoli Xavier says:

    This is why African countries will remain as they are.

  45. SavedByGrace says:

    Yeah it’s a lot different than communion you fool. How about doing a surface level study of religion before making an ass out of yourself. Vice is such a joke.

  46. ShReKgOKi says:

    Why is it all in english

  47. Julian Depaepe says:

    brainless scammers

  48. cece barboza says:

    90”day fiancé? Future cast 🤣🤣🤣

  49. Black cat photography says:

    Hi if you received this email is because your rich uncle. Has sadly passed away. And lives in Africa and if you would be so kindly to transfer 2000 dollars in advanced you will later this month. Or never get 1 million dollars from your uncle who passed away. Come one do people still fall for that one.

  50. Joeseph Perez says:

    Like Trump said…shitholes…you want these people as your neighbor to set your community back to the stone ages? Fuckign dumb as liberals think everyone grew up sipping Starbucks lattes.

  51. Aterhallsam says:

    ”The juju gods doesnt care about what we do to each other as long as they get paid”
    Hmm.. sounds like the LAPD.

  52. Vardan McTar says:

    Ok you guys can stop hazing this reporter.

  53. Mandisi Reehkavyah Rulashe says:

    I was just about to watch this video then I saw the word "witchcraft"…. I lost all interest

  54. slugster1370 says:

    Fucking idiots brain dead ginks

  55. cnote says:

    eggs? he throws them bcuz he likes eggs 😲😫🤕 whut

  56. cnote says:

    in a poverty, the governments are usually hired relatives.

  57. Tom Maika says:

    So they discovered Oil off their coast…will Hillary Clinton and Rosie O'Donnell come to Ghana and BLOCK the oil drilling because of the threat to spills and oil slicks hurting tourism? Like they are doing on the East coast of Florida? AND what about electric cars? They are coming on strong in California, Oregon, and other western states !

  58. Fat Bird says:

    Wow Vice came to ghana?!

  59. cosovic14 says:

    I knew this comment section wouldn't disappoint.

  60. Pan Dragon says:

    African people suffer hunger, but they throw eggs for no reason. Okay…

  61. Alecs X says:

    NO GOOD!

  62. Azure Vox says:

    ''Is this really so much weirder than communions or circumcisions''

    >Shows man giving booze to a fucking kid
    >Decapitating a chicken head with your teeth
    >Eating period tampons

    Could you please fuck off and stop pretending we are all the same

  63. Prince Ataya says:

    There oil after this was published but still high unemployment rate. Mismanagement, greed and corruption will not foster development

  64. town boi says:

    He looks like fetty wap

  65. Benjamin Elkanem says:

    Hahahahaha 2:30 To 2:35.

  66. Benjamin Elkanem says:

    That JuJu Is A Scam.

  67. The Matt Hatter says:

    I wish vice would send a man to do some of these interesting documentaries at least once. It would be nice to see how he would handle it.

  68. Alex Duke says:

    Yes that sounds completely legit, you take back the internet! It is YOURS after all right? Bc an African made the internet. I forgot about that. That underdog story about how Western men couldn't figure something like that but a few Africans with a combined iq under 100 did it. Damn they should make a movie about your struggles. Oh they can't bc they are trying to suppress that you developed the internet, right…. Sorry

  69. Alex Duke says:

    Ahhhh. Juju…. a black guy making himself white and telling other black people what to do to be successful…

  70. Blood sukaaa says:

    So they’re culture revolves around dark magic 🤨?…

  71. Helena Elizabeth says:

    Did that dude force a baby to drink henny? Just curious as I wasn’t paying too close attention at the time…

  72. Mr. Reyes says:

    Juju on the beat

  73. American says:

    Ashy Larry’s ancestors

  74. KingDiaz210 says:

    Ghana sound like a genital product 😀

  75. Joe Stenstrom says:

    Is it just me or does the narrator sound like he's defending the practices of these Ghanaians. The narrator describes how the government and the police force are corrupt which doesn't offer opportunities to the people, so "Sakawa" is the next best thing. I'm not a fan of VICE anyways.

  76. Foxesn Roses says:

    So theres no self Thoughts crazy

  77. Kim Velez says:

    I can't believe in this day and age people for this shit. I love screwing with them on the phone!!!

  78. Tom C says:

    That swimming pool was kinda empty

  79. aj grows says:

    10:25 OMG….Cultural differences I guess but dang….

  80. Tim Kuntz says:

    Hilariously Pathetic. Even today, there's ppl that exist in the world that still believe in magic. Oh shit, gotta go…my diamond crown just arrived.

  81. Magdalena says:

    Because of this Africa will never be free. Africans holds back by themselves more than by others. While others who believe in education and work and family african people cheat each other with juju. Stone age like. So sad.

  82. Saro Ceddababba says:

    only a real Devil (alien ) can controll and reduce so, this PLANET ! When will be late, we could see the true, but will be too late !

  83. Getz 1983 says:

    Low life's. Get a dam job .

  84. Yasmine Chukwu says:

    I always ask myself "who falls for this shit?!" I can understand the elderly, and mentally/intellectually ill falling pray to this but…


  85. DikkeKoelie says:

    i dont know sakawa is better then murdering people about money

  86. Teddy Meen says:


  87. Alex Dimuna says:

    It's important to note that some of the clips in in video are from Ghana movies

  88. Peach Cob says:

    8:09 omfg this mofo is ugly as hell

  89. Fun&Games says:

    Now for the usa scamming people out of income taxes !

  90. Fun&Games says:

    Wtf? They lost their way from thoth, and went to evil spirits & evil judeo spirits. Africa must go back to Thoth inorder to go back to the African golden age of Egypt and Punt.

  91. Fun&Games says:

    What the hell that burial is devil illuminati ritual. Get rid of them sellouts. Get rid of judeo too. Go back to Thoth & Maat.

  92. Leofashionista1 says:


  93. Bullish BearTrader says:

    But we are the stupid ones?

  94. Spam Mouse says:

    Yes !    I just got an email asking me to invest in a new Ghanaian Oil Drilling Platform – it's run by a ex-general who is now a priest so it is also protected by god himself, I can't go wrong can I?

  95. yungucci says:

    where can I watch the sakawa boys (2010) movie?

  96. olivier monreau says:


  97. Kelvin Bansah says:

    They are now referred to as “game boys”

  98. bouyant says:


  99. Victor .M. Vargas says:

    Magic eggs and eating tampons , but Americans are stupid?

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