For this finissage weekend of our Swipe Right! exhibition we have an exciting programme lined up with a guided tour, a talk with curator Valentina Peri and a screening of the film Sakawa by Ben Asamoah.
TALK: Valentina Peri
During the talk curator Valentina Peri will present her one-month stay at pIAR - perfocraZe International Artist Residency in Kumasi, Ghana, and the outcomes of her research on online dating scam.
The type of Internet-based fraud that prevails in the cybercrime business in Ghana is in fact romance scam. A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim (mugu), gaining their affection, and get the victim to send money to the scammer under false pretences. According to the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, the reports of these online scams have nearly tripled in the past years, and in 2020 alone victims lost around $304 million from being swindled by their cyber sweetheart.
Often scammers follow specific scripts when addressing their “mugus”. This is because love scammers use pre-written texts, known as “formats”, that they can buy from other experienced fraudsters or download from specific websites and copy-paste them into their conversations.
During her one month stay in Ghana, at pIAR in Kumasi, Valentina looked for these “formats” and the romance scammers’ original chats with the idea of publishing them as a collection of texts, following the tradition of the love letters-writing manual of the 18th and 19th centuries, also known as “The Lover’s Instructor” in the UK, “Secrétarie Galant” in France and “Segretario Galante” in Italy. This is how her book “The Complete Art of Writing Love Letters; or The Romance Scammers New Instructor” came to life.
SAKAWA is a 2018 film by Belgian-Ghanaian director Ben Asamoah.
‘Sakawa’ is the Ghanaian term used for illegal practices which combine modern Internet-based fraud and scam with fetish rituals. The film follows Ama, a young mother, who tries to become an internet con artist. A more seasoned scammer tries to teach her the craft. One Dollar is a master at his craft and knows how to use his fake account to drive men crazy: they fall for the photo of a buxom woman—and for his high-pitched voice. SAKAWA shows these fraudulent activities from the perspective of Belgian-Ghanaian director Ben Asamoah, who portrays the perpetrators from his own African perspective.