A Google search on Liberians in ‘black money’ scams yields several results:
12/29/2008: Two Liberians Arrested in Black Money Scam (Frederick, Maryland, USA)
12/02/2010: 5 Liberians Arrested in West Philly ‘Black Money’ Scam (Philadelphia, USA)
2/10/2011: Four Charged in Deptford Black Money Scam (New Jersey)
10/31/2011: Two Men Charged in Rhode Island in Scam Claiming Money Dyed (Rhode Island)
12/05/2011: Two Liberians Wanted by FBI for Black Money (Honolulu, Hawaii)
1/28/2012: The West African Black Money Scam (Buffalo, NY)
5/25/2012: Liberian Nabbed for Black Money Scam (Bangkok, Thailand)
1/18/2013: Liberian Arrested for Black Money Scam in Vietnam (Vietnam)
2/5/2013: Alleged Con Men Arrested for Attempted “Black Money” Scam (Trenton, NJ)
9/7/2013: In US Liberian Sentenced to 21 Months in ‘Black Money’ Scam (Providence, RI)
10/01/2013: Two Liberians Arrested in Pattaya over Black Money Scam (Thailand)
01/16/2014: 2 Liberians Nabbed for Alleged Swindling (Batangas City, The Philippines)
In one sting, five Liberian scam artists approached a Philadelphia (USA) restaurant owner, promising him US$100K in cash in exchange for US$50K. They showed the victim real US banknotes they had dyed black, which they then proceeded to wash clean with solution in a demonstration. This helps convince victims that the remaining stash of black paper in the suitcase is also real money dyed black (hence the term ‘black money’). The scammers claimed they had to dye all of the money in order to smuggle that much out of Liberia without questions.
Fortunately, this group was caught. But typically, the scammers leave their victim with a suitcase full of black banknote-sized paper, along with the dye-removing ‘chemicals’. They are long gone when their victims find that they have been duped. Of course, the victims’ own greed for fast money has done them in.
This international list of news articles shows how brave these fraudsters are, how far they have taken their ‘trade’; and this list is by no means exhaustive. This is unfortunate. Is this where this corruption business has led us? It is often said that “Charity begins at home and ends abroad.” This adage seems to perfectly describe our situation!
It is no secret that corruption in Liberia is not just a government disease; corruption is endemic at every level of Liberian society. By the time our children reach high school, they have learnt nothing but to pay for their grades. By university level, they have learned that they are ENTITLED to buy grades. Any administrator coming in to change the system will meet with stiff resistance if not death. Do recent developments at the University of Liberia ring a bell?
And so having graduated from the pre-school of corruption in Liberia, these young men sharpened their ‘skills’ abroad. There was a time when financial scams were unique to Nigerians; but many of our young men, having traveled out of the country during the war, saw nothing else to learn but con artistry. They have now taken their ‘trade’ worldwide — the United States, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines! Persuasive business minds put to the wrong use.
Perhaps the worst aspect to this is the gender disparity when it comes to corruption. Our mothers have spoilt our boys. By the age of 12, most Liberian girls have major responsibilities in the home, to include totting water, cooking, cleaning and caring for babies. By contrast, very few boys have responsibilities at home. They get up in the morning, leave and come back to eat and sleep. Their financial gains are theirs to spend as they please. Their sisters wash their clothes. Their mothers feed them. Girls are severely disciplined; but to our mothers, their boys can do no wrong. So they grow up indiscipline and selfish. All of the follies of their childhood follow them into manhood without correction — lying, petty theft, aggression, arrogance and the expectation that their wrongdoing will always be excused.
And so here we are. The hands that rocked the cradle have destroyed the nation. Today in the hospitals, the women ask each other:
“What child you born?”
“Da girl cha.”
“What you got?”