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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Dramatic rescue for hostage in internet cash con

Ed Carty and Louise Hogan

An Irish victim of an alleged email scam is recovering today after he was dramatically rescued from a failed ransom attempt in Ghana.

James Lafferty (49), from Ennis, Co Clare, was pulled to safety when police raided a hotel in the capital, Accra, where he was held captive.

The victim had been held hostage for around five days while kidnappers demanded money for his safety.

However, following an international police operation involving Interpol, gardai and Ghanaian police, local officers moved in after a tip-off and freed the kidnapped man. One man was arrested.

Mr Lafferty travelled to the west African state last week, after he apparently became embroiled in an email fraud scam and was taken hostage.

He was attempting to recover money he had paid into the investment trap but was taken hostage in the hotel room, as kidnappers contacted family and business associates back in Ireland demanding more money.

He was freed yesterday morning. Mr Lafferty is now being assisted by officials from the Honorary Consul in Accra. One man is being questioned by Ghanaian police and it is understood the kidnap gang were unarmed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed consular assistance is being provided to Mr Lafferty.

"He is currently safe and well in the Honorary Consulate in Accra, after being freed by local police," a spokesman said.

"He is due to meet with local police to provide them with additional information regarding his detention.

Scam

It is believed he may have become caught up in an email investment trap similar to the Nigerian 419 scam.

Fraudsters target people through unsolicited emails and claim to have hundreds of thousands of pounds, dollars or euro which needs to be stashed in bank accounts outside the country.

Unsuspecting victims hand over their bank details only to find money has been stolen.

A Garda spokesman said detectives in Ireland were notified of Mr Lafferty's disappearance last Friday.

"One man was arrested by Ghanaian police in connection with the incident," the spokesman said.

Consular officials are also arranging for his return to Ireland.

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