What resources are available for companies interested in doing business in Burkina Faso?
The U.S. Embassy offers a range of services to help U.S. companies and investors interested in doing business in Burkina Faso. Our most popular services include: arranging meetings for US businesses interested in visiting Burkina Faso; economic and political briefings; and screening local partners.
I have been the victim of an international financial scam.
The U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou warns all Americans engaging in financial transactions in Burkina Faso to exercise extreme caution before handing over any money. Con artists can be very creative and very determined. Be skeptical. Do not send anyone money unless you are certain that it is a legitimate request – even if you think you know the person well based on your Internet correspondence.
If you are the victim of a scam, you are very unlikely to recover any of your losses, and local authorities have limited means with which to investigate and prosecute offenders.
In Burkina Faso, there has been a recent uptick in scams involving the sale of gold at below market prices. In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this type of scam, please look over the following information:
- In almost every case there is a sense of urgency;
- The victim is enticed to travel to Burkina Faso or a nearby country;
- There are many forged official looking documents;
- Most of the correspondence is handled by fax or through the mail;
- Blank letterheads and invoices are requested from the victim along with the banking particulars;
- Any number of fees are requested for processing the transaction with each fee purported to be the last required;
- The confidential nature of the transaction is emphasized;
- There are usually claims of strong ties to local government officials;
- Offices in legitimate government buildings may even be used by impostors posing as the real occupants or officials.The most prevalent and successful cases of Advance Fee Fraud is the fund transfer scam. In this scheme, a company or individual will typically receive an unsolicited letter by mail from a “scammer” claiming to be a senior civil servant. In the letter, the imposter will inform the recipient that he is seeking a reputable foreign company or individual into whose account he can deposit funds ranging from $10-$60 million that his government overpaid on some procurement contract.
The goal of the criminal is to delude the target into thinking that he is being drawn into a very lucrative, albeit questionable, arrangement. The intended victim must be reassured and confident of the potential success of the deal. He will become the primary supporter of the scheme and willingly contribute a large amount of money when the deal is threatened. The term “when” is used because the con-within-the-con is the scheme will be threatened in order to persuade the victim to provide a large sum of money to save the venture.
Victims are often convinced of the authenticity of Advance Fee Fraud schemes by the forged or false documents bearing apparently official government letterhead, seals, as well as false letters of credit, payment schedules and bank drafts. The fraudster may establish the credibility of his contacts, and thereby his influence, by arranging a meeting between the victim and “government officials” in what may appear to be government offices.
Indications are that Advance Fee Fraud in West Africa grosses hundreds of millions of dollars annually and the losses are continuing to escalate. In all likelihood, there are victims who do not report their losses to authorities due to either fear or embarrassment. If you are the victim of a scam, you are very unlikely to recover any of your losses, and local authorities have limited means with which to investigate and prosecute offenders.
In response to this growing epidemic, the United States Secret Service established “Operation 4-1-9” designed to target Nigerian and other Advance Fee Fraud on an international basis. The Financial Crimes Division of the Secret Service receives approximately 100 telephone calls from victims/potential victims and 300-500 pieces of related correspondence per day.
You may also contact the Embassy as your report will help us in our interactions with the Burkinabe government to protect other Americans from these scams. However, please keep in mind that the Embassy cannot arrest or initiate lawsuits against perpetrators in Burkina Faso, nor can the Embassy recover your lost money.
For more information, please see the Department of State’s brochure: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/emergencies/scams.html