Gay tourists and locals have been warned that many profiles of Ghanaian men on dating sites are scams that could lead to blackmail, extortion and robbery, reports Global Voices.

The website Easy Track Ghana, says: “On international gay chat sites, there are a disproportionate number of young men from Ghana professing to search for true love. Many people get excited when first reading all the lovely gay profiles professing a search for romantic love. Well, none of it is true! Only a small 2% of the guys on these gay chat sites are ‘gay’ in the sense you think of it in the West.”

A blog, Fakers2Go, also writes that, “In Ghana, On-line criminals are targeting men who have sex with men (MSMs). They aim to extort money through kidnapping, violence and use of Ghana’s archaic colonial law. As homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, MSM’s have no protection under the law and reporting a crime can lead to the victim being criminalised.”

It further warns that “the police often work with the criminals to extort money and therefore cannot be trusted”.

Victims are reportedly blackmailed for up to US$25,000 by the criminals.

Not only do locals face the prospect of being blackmailed but international visitors could be robbed and beaten when meeting people that have interacted with online.

“Dating sites are the most frequently used ways to meet a (potential) lover or gay guide in a foreign country. At sites like Outpersonals or Gaydar you will find that Ghana is the country in Africa with the most registered hopefuls. Does this mean Ghana is the Gay paradise in Africa? No…!”, writes Gay Ghana.

According to The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, “Blackmail and extortion are the twin crimes that afflict the LGBTI community in Kenya today, but [the] majority of the cases are never reported”.

Potential victims are advised to look out for profiles and communication with people with extremely bad grammar and overly enthusiastic professions of love, tragic background stories and demands for money. They are also advised to be wary of meeting people alone in dangerous and isolated places.

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