When Ghana declared independence from Britain in 1957, it immediately became a target for opportunists determined to lay hold of whatever assets colonialism hadn’t already stripped. The military ousted the new nation’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, then falsely accused him of stealing the country’s gold and hiding it overseas.
Into this story stepped one of history’s most charismatic scammers, John Ackah Blay-Miezah a con man to rival the trickster god Anansi. Born into poverty, Blay-Miezah declared himself the custodian of an alleged Nkrumah trust fund worth billions. You, too, could claim a piece, if only you would help him rescue it with a small investment.
Over the 1970s and 80s, he grew his scam to epic proportions, amassing hundreds of millions of pounds from thousands of marks all over the world. He baffled Henry Kissinger, scandalised Shirley Temple-Black, and had Nixon’s former attorney-general at his beck and call. Many tried to stop him, but Blay-Miezah continued to live in luxury, protected by ex-SAS soldiers while he deceived lawyers, businessmen and investigators around the globe.