Gays in Cameroon, beware this blackmailer

Albert Edouard Ekobo Samba

Albert Edouard Ekobo Samba

Denounced for two years in gay activist groups’ press releases, Albert Edward Ekobo Samba, who passes himself off as a gay man on the Internet, continues to trap gay men with the help of accomplices posing as police.

Here’s what some of his latest victims have to say:

Ghislain F., a 31-year-old gay man who lives and works in Bafoussam, made a date in early April with Albert Edward Ekobo Samba via the dating site Gayromeo.

Ekobo claimed to be a dentist working for the Red Cross in Yaounde preparing for a trip to northern Cameroon. He promised to go through Bafoussam to explore the city and meet Ghislain. The two men exchanged phone numbers. Ghislain said:

“On Wednesday, April 24, at around 10:30 p.m., I got a call from Albert Edward telling me that he was in Bafoussam and would like to meet me. Given the late hour, I declined that offer and agreed to meet him the next day.

“On Thursday morning, he called me back to 6:15 a.m. We set up a rendezvous for 8 a.m. at the Paix Plus restaurant in the office district. Over a drink that I offered him, our discussion focused on our professional experience and our respective sexual practices.

“After 20 minutes of conversation, four men in uniform came to our table. My guest, who obviously knew them, immediately said, ‘Here’s the queer who’s trying to pick me up. I recorded our whole conversation on my phone.’

“The uniformed men, without revealing their identities, ordered me to follow them to the police headquarters for interrogation.”

“Not wanting to draw the attention of nearby people who knew me — and fearing that I would be bullied or worse, I immediately complied,” Ghislain said.

Ekobo, arnaqueur des gays.

Albert Edward Ekobo Samba

“About 50 meters from the police station, they stopped and began to threaten me, claiming that I had been caught in the act of homosexual sex and that they know I am a cocksucker, etc.. I can only stay out of jail if I strike a deal with them, they say. For 500,000 FCFA (US $1,000), I’ll be released. I don’t have that kind of money, so I promised them 30,000 FCFA (US$60). They asked me what was in my bag. I told them it contained professional documents and my personal laptop. They took my bag as my pledge to get my money at home,” Ghislain recalled.

Later, when he tried to contact Ekobo, the phone call didn’t go through.

“I couldn’t reach him until 5 p.m., when he informed me in a threatening tone that he was already in Yaounde and that, if I wanted to retrieve the contents of my bag, except the laptop, I had to send him 150,000F CFA (US$300).”

Distraught, Ghislain told gay rights activist Marc Lambert Lamba about the scam. The activist invited Ghislain to Yaounde to apprehend the man he called “Ekobo, blackmailer and swindler,” who was well-known in Cameroon’s gay community.

Marc Lambert Lamba said:

“We asked the swindler to file official documents at a travel agency near the police station in the 6th district in Etoudi. Once he was there, we would transfer the money to him. He went to the agency for the transaction. We waited in a bar out front and as soon as we spotted him, we nabbed him.

“He cried out, shouting to the crowd outside that we were motherfuckers and queers. Fortunately, the police commissioner of the 6th district was around, and he was able to control the situation and led us to the police station.”

Albert Edouard Ekobo Samba

Albert Edouard Ekobo Samba

Continuing threats

Under questioning, Ekobo denied everything. Ghislain’s passport was found in his pocket, but a search of the residence that he said was his home uncovered nothing. Actually, that location was his aunt’s home, where he sometimes stayed. Police held Ekobo in a cell.

On April 29, Ghislain was invited to a settlement agreement with Ekobo’s family. In exchange for the return of his laptop and documents, Ghislain withdrew his charges and Ekobo was released.

That same night, Ekobo began making threatening phone calls, Ghislain said.

Since then, Ghislain has been afraid for his safety.

“He told me by phone that he knew my bank account and had my résumé. I would have to meet all his demands or I would need to flee the city. I’m afraid he will attack me again either at home or at work. I fear that I might lose my job because of his daily harassment.”

Other victims

Yannick, 28, another homosexual resident of Yaounde, also been scammed by Ekobo. It happened on March 17, 2013, following the same routine that Ekobo used with Ghislain. Yannick said:

“We met through NJR, a dating site on the Internet. After several telephone conversations, we agreed to meet in the Shell Anguissa area. At the meeting, Ekobo presented himself as an officer on a mission to track down gays. He said he had arrested three homosexuals that week. An Anguissa police car was parking nearby during the meeting.

“Two men in civilian clothes walked up, stood by me and began to threaten me. They called me a fag and reminded me that the law prohibits homosexuality in Cameroon. They said I would be arrested and detained if I did not call my family. But then they seized my cell phone and told me to an appointment at the First District police station the next day.”

After that, the scam ended for Yannick. No one showed up at the next day’s meeting. But it continues for others. Patrick M., another gay man, became a victim of Ekobo on the night of May 4, according to testimony presented to a mediator for the Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS (Camfaids). Patrick was also stripped of his laptop after Ekobo accused him of being a homosexual.

Ekobo has been working as a blackmailer and swindler since at least August 2011. He has been denounced repeatedly by gay rights organizations in Yaounde, which have published press releases warning the public about him.

A few times, he has been arrested for extortion scams, with help from gay activists, but he always ends up being released.

Unfortunately for homosexuals in Cameroon, they remain exposed to his attacks.

– Eric O. LEMBEMBE

About Eric O. Lembembe

Eric O. Lembembe, a journalist in Cameroon, is a leader of the Cameroonian Foundation For AIDS (CAMFAIDS), an association that seeks to promote and protect all human rights.
This entry was posted in Africa (Sub Saharan), Harassment / murders and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Gays in Cameroon, beware this blackmailer

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