35-year-old Ghanaian arrested in $2.1m romance fraud in USA

A 35-year-old Ghanaian Rubbin Sarpong, 35 has been arrested for his involvement in $2.1m Romance fraud in the United States of America (USA).

The suspect who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted is reported to have in concert with others scammed over 30 victims identified so far as 27 sent more than $823,000 to him mainly by wiring money to his bank accounts. He transferred more than $454,000 to co-conspirators in Ghana.

One of his victims is reported to have committed suicide after sending more than $93,000, according to investigators.

Sarpong who flaunts dollar bills at the least opportunity was on Wednesday charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will have a first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon.

Sarpong and his co-conspirators, several of whom live in Ghana, ran the scheme starting in January 2016 until this week.

They set up phony profiles on various online dating sites posing as U.S. military personnel and would pretend to forge romantic relationships with their victims, authorities said.

In one of the scenarios, the scammers would then ask for money to ship gold bars they had recovered while stationed in Syria back to the United States, authorities said.

There were no gold bars and the scammers kept the money, authorities said.

The victims, who met the scammers via sites including Plenty of Fish, Ourtime.com and Match.com, communicated with the scammers via phone and email.

The criminal complaint references a victim who committed suicide after wiring $93,710.

The scammer in this case told her he was a soldier serving in Syria and that he was awarded a box of gold bars worth more than $12 million. What followed was an elaborate story about how she could help get the gold to the U.S. by paying various fees and taxes. She was told her money would be returned once the gold arrived.

Nigerians attack Sonnie Badu over xenophobic comments

Nigerians have descended heavily on UK-based Ghanaian gospel artist Sonnie Badu for xenophobic comments he shared on social media against the people of Nigeria.

Sonnie Badu in a Facebook post claimed Nigerians have attacked and robbed some Chinese and whites all in the name of retaliation.

He stated that Nigerians are attacking their fellow Nigerians and believes that such an act will not solve the attacks in South Africa in any way.

However, some Nigerians who felt offended about Sonnie Badu comments criticized him for spreading lies about their country.

They rained insults on him and asked him to verify his fact before spreading false stories;

See the comments below;

Kingsley Iserhienrhien had this to say; “Sonnie am not surprised ? you sharing what you heard without facts. You Ghanaians do maltreat Nigerians in your own country, you guys are not different from SA. Am talking out of experience but you, you heard. Ghanaians are nursing such hatred towards Nigerians in your neighborhood”.

Uchechukwu Okoronkwo also wrote; “Badu has acted irresponsibly. You don’t share what you hear…you confirm it first. FYI no foreigner has been attacked in Nigeria”.

Rosemond Idun commented; “Where was Sonnie Badu when The South Africans were attacking the Nigerians. Sometimes I don’t want to understand some of these hypocrites”.

Otunba Dotun also added; “Sonnie Badu you need to stop spreading fake news about Nigeria. Otherwise, God will deal with you”.

Andre Ayew touched by special love from Swansea City fans

Andre Ayew says his full focus is on performing well for Swansea City after his match-winning brace against Northampton.

The Ghanaian made his first Swans appearance in 15 months when he was summoned from the bench in the Carabao Cup clash with the Cobblers.

The 29-year-old did not take long to make an impact as his two headers – his first Swansea goals in over three years – helped Steve Cooper’s men turn around the first-round tie and set-up a home assignment against Cambridge United in the next round.

Ayew recently returned to training after being on African Cup of Nations duty during the summer, and head coach Cooper has acknowledged the forward could yet leave the club with a number of transfer markets still open.

But, as long as he remains a Swansea player, Ayew has vowed to do as much as he can to help Cooper and co build on their unbeaten start to the season

“I’m a Swansea player and I am working hard for the games that are coming up. The gaffer has been clear and honest with me and I want to thank him for that,” he said.

“He’s given me a lot of confidence and trust in the way that he speaks to me. I really feel like I’m welcome and that’s a good feeling.

“A lot of things have been said but, for me, what’s important is to work hard, try to get to full fitness and, if I’m here, go for it.”

Ayew also thanked the Swans fans for the reception he received on Tuesday night, with his name ringing round the Liberty after his goals.

“The fans gave me an unbelievable welcome. I’m so happy and touched and that sort of thing makes you want to work hard,” he said.

“They have always been great with me and supporting me. That’s why, so long as I’m in a Swansea shirt, I try to give everything I have for the club. I just want to do my best on the field for everyone.”

Sex and sexuality in our jails: A tale of the predator and the prey

Sex plays an important role in our social lives. Apart from procreation, it brings to the participating individuals emotional and physical fulfilment required to keep them hale and hearty. A good sex life is believed to bring to the individual benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved mood, enhanced immune function, general fitness among others.

Sexuality, the way people express themselves sexually, is a subject which arouses diverse opinions in Ghana. This is because, the Ghanaian, traditionally, recognizes heterosexual relationships as the accepted form of sexuality. Homosexual relationships, though abhorred by the greater populace, is creeping into the Ghanaian society. Regardless the sexual orientation of an individual, sexual satisfaction remains the ultimate goal.

Prisons in Ghana house only adults, making it easy to assert that most incarcerated persons are sexually active. Among the many deprivations prisoners in Ghana endure is sex, as prison rules disallow all forms of sexual acts. Additionally, prison regulations make no provision for conjugal visits which permit spouses of incarcerated persons to spend intimate moments with their partners. Some prisoners, in the circumstance, resort to same-sex relationships to feed their sexual cravings.

How effective is the ‘no sex’ regulation?

Ghana, like other jurisdictions, house male and female prisoners in different facilities preventing any contact between the two sexes.

To alleviate the pains of imprisonment, some prisoners risk the consequences and engage in sexual acts as asserted in Erving Goffman’s 1969 work, ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’. He posited that, inmates may have to adjust their sexual practices while incarcerated by engaging in illegal methods in order to obtain certain forms of satisfaction.

The issue of same-sex relationships in our prisons is gradually becoming topical as prisons mirror the wider society. There have even been claims by some ex-convicts to the effect that same-sex relationships and rape exist in our facilities. Though most of these claims are blown out of proportion, there are certain levels of truth in them. An incident at the Ankaful Maximum Security Prison in June 2016 where a male prisoner slashed the penis of another prisoner who attempted to rape him paints a picture of how the act is viewed by a majority of prisoners. The practice, nicknamed ‘Kpee’, is treated as a taboo throughout Ghana’s prisons. That notwithstanding, there are few instances where prisoners report attempted rape by fellow prisoners to prison staff. These reports are swiftly investigated and appropriate sanctions handed to sex predators.

Who is at risk of being preyed on?

A number of inmates who have suffered sexual harassment in our jails are from poor homes and or receive little or no family support during their jail terms. Prison ration, which mostly is insufficient, becomes their only means of survival.

The overcrowding rate in our facilities stand at 52.87% with 15,203 prisoners struggling for 9,945 spaces. This gives little room for prison administrators to do a proper classification of inmates to either prevent contamination or limit the exposure of low risk prisoners to hardened ones. First offenders who find themselves in same cells as powerful recidivists are sometimes coerced to trade their bodies for sleeping spaces.

Challenges faced in the area of feeding still exist. The feeding rate of GH 1.80 per prisoner daily has stagnated for close to a decade making it almost impossible to provide three wholesome meals. The quest to keep body and soul together in some circumstances result in poor prisoners kowtowing to the pressures of their rich colleagues. Affluent prisoners in search of sexual gratification sometimes resort to these weaklings as the provision of food and other necessities, sometimes, is more than enough to lure them into same-sex relationships.

Prison staff mostly have difficulty in detecting these relationships since most sex offenders employ coercive and non-violent tactics to win over partners. Additionally, prisoners often underreport overtures for fear of being labeled as informants or becoming subjects of physical abuse.

Are conjugal visits the way to go?

In looking for a solution to the emerging scourge of sexual relationships behind bars, conjugal visits come to mind. The system, which runs in some prisons around the world, permits prisoners to host their spouses in specially built quarters for specific periods. The key to these special quarters, in most cases, is good conduct. Apart from the emotional and physical need of sex that the system presents, prison authorities use it as a bait to enforce prisoner discipline.

Ghana’s prison system in my estimation, is still some miles away from being ripe for such an intervention.

Deficiencies as regards feeding, overcrowding, inadequate reformation and rehabilitation modules and others that the Service currently endures need to be given needed attention as they together possess, though indirectly, an antidote to fighting sex predators.

The fact is, if prisons are not resourced to correct the offending behaviours of prisoners, they are sure to return to haunt society. This confirms the saying of Marquis de Sade, a French author, that “any punishment that does not correct is a piece of gratuitous infamy which makes those who impose it more guilty in the eyes of humanity, a hundred times more guilty than the victim on whom the punishment is inflicted.”

Akufo-Addo declares Monday, August 5, public holiday

A statement signed by Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, on Wednesday said in view of the day falling on a Sunday, the President, has by Executive Instrument (EI), declared Monday, August 5, as a public holiday “to be observed as such throughout the country.”

The Founders’ Day was instituted by the President by Executive Instrument to commemorate the contributions to the liberation of Ghana from imperialism and colonialism.

It replaced September 21, the birthday of Ghana’s founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, which used to be observed as the commemorative day for Ghana’s liberation and independence fighters.

However, September 21 will be observed as ‘Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day’.

August 4

On that day, in 1897, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) was formed in Cape Coast.

The Society did a great job to mobilise the chiefs and people to ward off the greedy hands of British imperialism to ensure that control of Ghanaian lands remained in Ghanaian hands.

It represented the first monumental step towards the making of modern Ghana, enabling us to avoid the quagmire of land inheritance that our brothers and sisters in Southern and Eastern Africa continue to suffer, from the seizures of their lands by white minorities

It is, therefore, fitting that we honour them, as those who contributed to the founding of our nation, a statement issued by the Presidency on September 18, 2018, indicated.

The statement signed by Communications Director, Eugene Arhin noted: “The most appropriate way to honour them is to commemorate the day on which the two most significant events in our colonial political history, that led us to independence, occurred – 4th August.”

PDS fiasco: Finance Minister fingered!

Energy expert Kojo Opoku says the blame for the failure of due diligence to be done over the concession agreement between government and Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana Limited must be laid at the doorstep of the Minister of Finance and not any other.

He says it took a Qatari company to alert government of the fraudulent documents tendered in by PDS to win the bid.

No due diligence was done, he stressed on 3FM‘s Hot Edition on Wednesday.

Government in a statement on Tuesday suspended the whole agreement after it said further due diligence was conducted.

Fundamental and material breaches were detected with the demand guarantees that enabled PDS to manage the assets of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Already, Energy Minister John Peter-Amewu has confirmed the suspension of the official behind the “fraudulent documents”.

Official behind PDS’ ‘fraudulent documents’ suspended – Energy Minister confirms

But speaking on the issue on Hot Edition, Mr Opoku said no official other than the Minister of Finance should lose his or her job.

He argued that what PDS presented were insurance bonds and not payment securities or demand guarantees, as it should be, and this could have been easily detected by an efficient Finance Minister.

“They have to stop this bickering and lies to Ghanaians,” he said about the government’s position on the latest outcome.

“It was a company in Qatar that came to inform Ghana that it was fraud.

“If anybody should lose their job, it should be the Finance Minister.”

Ghana is set to lose $190 million as a result of the latest development.

Government says “full inquiry” has already been launched into the deal to “inform the next course of action”.

Mr Opoku says there should be criminal investigations into the whole deal.

‘Antichrist’ Archbishop Dag Heward Mills must be arrested – Maurice Ampaw

Private Legal Practitioner and founder of the Legal Advocacy Foundation, Dr Maurice Ampaw has called for the arrest of Archbishop Dag Heward Mills, the founder of Lighthouse Chapel International for the latter’s endorsement of oral sex, MyNewsGh.com reports.

According to the lawyer, the popular preacher is “abnormal, perverted and not a right-thinking member of society” and so must be “delivered and arrested” for endorsing criminality.

In 2015, the Archbishop Dag Heward-Mills told his congregation in a sermon that, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with oral sex because there is no red flag on any part of the body. Which law [states] that this place is not good; you can kiss here, but you cannot lick here because kissing is licking”, adomonline.com reported.

Bishop Heward-Mills, who was addressing church members, could not fathom why couples restrict areas they touch during foreplay when in fact other places can also contribute to making the sex more enjoyable.

“Why can’t you kiss your wives vulva and why can’t your wife also kiss your penis; why can’t she hold it? It’s nice” he stressed.

It is against this backdrop that Dr Ampaw argues that the famed miracle-working pastor must be confined behind bars.

Speaking in an interview on Kumasi-based Angel FM monitored by MyNewsGh.com, Dr Ampaw said, “every pastor that promotes oral sex is abnormal, antichrist, is not a right-thinking member of society, is a perverted minister of God, and so he should be delivered and then arrested, because he’s against God’s own principle of sexual intercourse”.

Maurice Ampaw has in recent days begun an advocacy against oral sex, condemning the practice and shedding light on its legal implications in Ghana.

He has branded people who put their mouth on the genitalia of their significant others as “foolish” and has encouraged people to report any such “obscene” practices to the police to effect arrest when they come across any.

Though Bishop Heward-Mills said oral sex is a “holy and good thing”, Maurice Ampaw believes the preacher must have been “swallowed by promiscuity” to have such thoughts.

He has challenged the Archbishop to meet him in court if he is offended by his opinion of him.

“It is a legal opinion I have expressed and it’s biblical; quote me and tell him I said this and if he thinks that I have spoken in a way that he’s unhappy with, he should take me on”, but “he even fears to do that because I will disgrace him and he might quit the priesthood”, Maurice Ampaw told Kwame Tanko, host of Angel In The Morning last Friday.

Revealing: Fraudster secured ECG deal for PDS

3news.com has gathered that government suspended the concession agreement with Power Distribution Services (PDS) after discovering that the person it had been dealing with was a fraudster.

It is now emerging that the officer who executed the Demand Guarantees (Lease Payment Security and BSA Payment Security) submitted by PDS was not authorized.

PDS was supposed to manage the operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for 20 years starting from Friday, March 1, 2019.

But government was forced to suspend the agreement with immediate effect as a precautionary measure, 3news.com understands, having realized the element of fraud in the transfer of ECG’s assets and management to PDS.

When authenticated, it could lead to the nullification of the entire ECG concession agreement.

Sources close to the deal told 3news.com this major development came to light following a series of due diligence tests the guarantees were subjected to by the ECG.

In the course of ECG investigations, a commercial insurer and reinsurer, Al Koot, which is based in Qatar wrote a letter to ECG dated 16th July, 2019 claiming among other things, that the officer who executed the Guarantees from Al Koot was not authorized and that the guarantees are null and void.

The letter also accused the officer of committing fraud.

A number of meetings were subsequently held between government and stakeholders on July 28 culminating into the suspension of the concession agreement on July 30.

Meanwhile, a government delegation is expected to travel to Qatar on Wednesday July 31, 2019 to meet with officials from Al Koot in order to verify the information specifically on the fraud aspect.

Government has also assured that it is taking steps to ensure the development does not affect distribution, billing and payment services.

Remove ‘killer’ taxes – Minority demands

The Minority in Parliament is demanding an immediate reversal in the new taxes announced by the Finance Minister Monday.

Ken Ofori-Atta in his 2019 mid-year budget review proposed an increment in Energy Sector levies and the Communication Service Tax.

Mr Ofori-Atta wants Parliament to approve a GHp 20 per litre for petrol and diesel and GHp 8 per kg for LPG.This pushes the prices of petrol and diesel up by some GHp 90 per gallon.

He also proposed a 3% increment in the Communication Services Tax, from 6% to 9%.

The Minority, who had prior to the budget presentation warned against any such increments, have criticised government for refusing to heed to their caution.

“If these increases (petrol, diesel and LPG) create frustration and Ghanaians wish to vent through phone calls or on social media, the Mid-year budget has made that expensive as well, following the imposition of a 50% increase in the Communication Service Tax from 6% to 9%.

“These measures will send shock waves through many households and businesses as this will only further compound the excruciating hardships Ghanaians are already going through,” Minority Spokesperson on Finance Ato Forson said at a press conference Tuesday.

In his view, the increments will add on to a raft of taxes imposed by President Akufo-Addo despite his promise not to do so in opposition, some of which he claimed to include a 5% backdoor increase in VAT couched as NHIL and GETFund Levies.

Borrowing

The NDC MPs have accused government of “cosmetically” posting a positive primary balance for two consecutive years at a time when the public debt has ballooned.

Mr. Ofori-Atta presented the mid-year budget review in Parliament Monday

Mr Ato Forson is projecting that based on what he describes as government’s appetite for borrowing, the public debt could reach some ¢220 billion by the end of the year, representing 65% of GDP.

“This would mean that in three years, President Akufo-Addo would have added GHS 100 billion to the public debt. We wish to stress that this only represents what has been added since 2017. In all, President Akufo-Addo has borrowed about ¢160 billion (not what is added to the public debt) since 2017 with part of it used for debt reprofiling.

“The public debt would exceed the projected ¢220 billion, once draw-down begins for a number of loans approved by Parliament. This rapid increase in the public debt level means that we have reached a point of debt unsustainability, a fact confirmed by the World Bank Country Director,” he added.

This development, the Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam MP, indicated, is at variance with what the President and his party told the people of Ghana in opposition.

They created the impression that they could govern the country without borrowing and

that even if they borrowed at all, the funds would solely be channeled into capital investments, he said.

“After adding ¢84 billion to the public debt, President Akufo-Addo cannot point to any significant capital investments made over the last three years. Almost all of the borrowed funds have gone into consumption related expenditure.”

For the Minority, the mid-year budget shows clearly the public finance is in a dire state and the resort to additional tax measures is an indication for what they believe are troubling times ahead.

The populist policies adopted by President Akufo-Addo, in their view, have come full cycle and are throwing all the gains made from the fiscal consolidation prior to the coming into office of the NPP government, out of gear.

“It has become obvious that the NPP has no intention of keeping their promises to Ghanaians when it comes to borrowing and the public debt, the imposition taxes, fuel price adjustments and the resolution of the general hardships facing the people.

“The mid-year budget presented by the Finance Minister only offers gloom and portend very difficult times for all Ghanaians. There is, therefore, the need for the Akufo-Addo government to change course or they will plunge the economy into much bigger challenges,” Mr Forson said.

The militia, nomenclature and the silence on sanctions

The militia, nomenclature and the lack of prosecution

The government of Ghana said it felt vindicated when the NMC ruled to sustain the state’s argument that the Joy News documentary Militia in the Heart of the Nation had a misleading advertisement.

The commission claimed the use of a background that showed the worrying activities of militia groups in the country was unethical. Joy News has contested the ruling.But while the government claims vindication, there are questions about sanctions for those who allowed the commander Nana Wireko Addo alias Choman and his team of young men and women to operate at the former seat of government.

In the documentary Joy News established the presence of the group operating illegally at the former seat of government. The state did not contest this, except to say that the people were “a group of young men and women, dressed up in white shirts and black suits, converging at the Castle, Osu, in the belief that jobs will be found for them.”


At a news conference in March this year, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah indicated that the leader of the De-Eye Group, Nana Wireko Addo, had been appointed to retrieve some vehicles from appointees of the Mahama administration, finished the job in 2018 but decided to operate his own business from the Castle.

“After the completion of the work of the task force in August 2018, he subsequently converted the office allocated to him into a private business office for the stated purposes of his company,” Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah said. Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said the situation was handled immediately it was discovered.
“But it was quickly dealt with in October 2018 when he was evicted from the premises by a joint operation involving personnel of the National Security Secretariat and the Ghana Police Service,” he said.

But there are questions. Who was sanctioned for the presence of the people at the state facility? The government does not talk about who took responsibility and whether anyone has been sanctioned for allowing an unregistered security company to run from the Osu Castle. Speaking on the Joy News analysis show Newsfile in March this year, private legal practitioner Ace Ankomah said the eviction was not enough. For him, the state should have ensured the arrest of the people.


“Eviction means you can go, go and sin no more. But these guys, on the face of it, are as guilty as sin. But they’re evicted and they have the temerity, impudence, audacity to return to the prime real estate – the old slave fort – and then they have to be re-evicted. You see, the law just does not work in this country,” Mr. Ankomah said.

But this is critical because in the government’s own statement signed and read by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah after the broadcast of the documentary there people had no permission to operate at the state facility. He said: “Admittedly, this should not have been allowed to happen in the first place.”

The group also admitted on its website that it was undertaking security training. Their trainers were ex-military men. It’s motto was “Vigilance and Protection”. JoyNews checks revealed that the group had no license to undertake security training or operations, a situation lawyer Ace Ankomah said was criminal.

Former GFA spokesperson Randy Abbey believes someone must take responsibility for the operation of the group at the castle.

“Is anybody being held responsible? So now the focus is on are they militia, do they have a disposition to violence? They’re not. But the truth of the matter is that, look, if you have a situation where there’s a running battle between a group and the national security, and on three occasions the national security is unable to kick them out and that it had to a reinforcement – a joint effort – it cannot be just a group of some idle unemployed young men and women.

But in all this the narrative by the government has been about nomenclature, how the people should be called – vigilante or militia -, but very silent on the prosecution of the group or sanction for whoever was responsible for the occupation of the group at the Castle.

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