Pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and various types of scams are the most common forms of crime confronting visitors. Travelers have reported these types of theft at crowded markets, beaches, parks, and tourist attractions. Incidences of violent crime, such as armed robbery, are on the rise, including reports of armed robberies in expatriate residential and shopping areas, specifically the Osu and Ablekuma/Dzorwulu neighborhoods after 10 p.m. Victims who resist attackers run a high risk of serious physical injury. Take security measures, such as traveling in groups and avoiding travel at night. Avoid travel in communal taxis. Travelers who limit their display of jewelry and handle their cash discreetly reduce their vulnerability to crime. Pay close attention to those around you or following you, particularly after exchanging money, making a purchase, or withdrawing money from an ATM. Travelers should carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents.
Thefts of both luggage and travel documents occur at Kotoka International Airport in Accra and in hotels across Ghana. All U.S. citizens should ensure that documents are kept secure at all times (including when leaving the airport) and that baggage is never left unattended. Travelers should be wary of all offers of unsolicited assistance at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials. All permanent staff at the airport are issued current ID cards bearing their name and photograph. ID cards without a photograph are not valid. Travelers who are met at the airport should confirm the identity of their driver, either by requesting proper identification or otherwise verifying that the driver is an official from an organization or a hotel. There have been increasing incidences of impostors who approach travelers before the main arrivals area claiming to be the traveler's driver or contact. The impostor will have obtained the traveler's name from the board displayed by the official driver in the arrivals area outside the airport. The impostor then attempts to extort money from the traveler once the traveler is in the impostor's vehicle.
Use of credit cards in Ghana should be avoided if possible, as a growing number of travelers have been victims of credit card fraud.
In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported substantial financial losses from questionable transactions involving gold and other precious metals. The Government of Ghana maintains strict regulations on these natural resources. All agents must be licensed and all transactions must be certified. (See Special Circumstances below.)
Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including U.S. citizens. Such fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Ghana.
U.S. citizens frequently consult the Embassy regarding questionable business offers sent from Ghana. These are scams and typically begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must be paid in order to conclude the transaction, such as fees to open a bank account or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect money from the victim. The Embassy has also received reports of fraudulent charities soliciting contributions through the Internet or direct mail. If you receive such business offers or charity requests, carefully check them out before you commit any funds, provide any goods or services, or undertake any travel. Check with the U.S. Embassy in Ghana at telephone (233)-(030)-274-1443/1449 for an assessment of the offer's credibility.
Another type of fraud is committed by persons claiming to live in Ghana or traveling to Ghana on business, and who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet. Once a relationship has been established, the correspondent typically asks the U.S. citizen to send money for living expenses, travel expenses, or visa costs. Sometimes a "hospital"or "doctor" telephones to say that the friend has suffered an "accident" and needs immediate financial assistance to cover medical bills. There are other variations of this scam, but the common goal is to fraudulently obtain as much money as possible from the victim. U.S. citizens have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams. The anonymity of the Internet means that the victim cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. In most cases reported to the Embassy, the correspondent turned out to be a fictitious persona created to lure U.S. citizens into sending money.
Visitors to Ghana should also be wary of overly-friendly locals offering tours, discounted lodging, or other services that seem too good to be true. Tourists are often targeted by touts and scam artists. Some U.S. citizens have been victims of false criminal accusations and have lost time and money as they seek to resolve these difficult situations.
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