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Africa e-mail plea rip-off

June 2, 2002

Police in the Midlands last night warned of an elaborate £6 million plot being masterminded by international fraudsters.

The crooks are plotting to dupe the unwary into handing over bank details with the promise of making a fortune.

But the lure of easy money will lead to a gigantic rip-off, say police.

Businesses and individuals across the Midlands have been sent e-mails containing the "confidential business proposal".

The e-mail claims to come from the son of a Zimbabwean farmer, who is said to have been murdered in a land dispute in the troubled African country.

The dead man apparently salted away $8.5 million (about £5.8 million) in South Africa "when he saw the looming danger in Zimbabwe", says the e-mail.

Now, according to the sender, the cash is trapped in South Africa and he needs a business partner to release it through their bank accounts.

But last night West Midlands Police warned that to provide confidential banking details could lead to people's savings being looted.

And a senior official at the Zimbabwe High Commission in London described the scam as "disgraceful and criminal."

The fraud is similar to dozens being organised by Nigerian gangs, but this is believed to be the first time that Zimbabwe has been exploited by ruthless criminals.

The e-mail says: "I am Monpola Camara, the first son of Nkono Camara, the most popular black farmer in Zimbabwe who was recently murdered in the land dispute in my country.

"Before the death of my father, he had taken me to Johannesburg to deposit the sum of US$8.5 million in a private security company, as he foresaw the looming danger in Zimbabwe.

"My family and I fled Zimbabwe for fear of our lives and are currently staying in the Netherlands where we are seeking political asylum.

"I have decided to transfer my father's money to a more reliable foreign account since the law of Netherlands prohibits an asylum-seeker from opening a bank account or being involved in financial transactions.

"As the eldest son, I am saddled with the responsibility of seeking a genuine foreign account where this money could be transferred without the knowledge of my government.

"I am willing to give you 10 per cent of the money. This transaction is risk-free. Thanks, God bless you."

Last night, Tadzingaira Tachiveyi, counsellor for trade and commerce at the Zimbabwe High Commission in London, said: "We are aware of this e-mail. The author is bogus and the scenario is entirely fabricated.

"It is simply criminal activity to hoodwink people. The authorities in the UK, South Africa, The Netherlands and Zimbabwe are investigating."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Anyone receiving this sort of unsolicited correspondence should remember that if it makes a proposal that seems too good to be true, then it more than likely is." ..SUPL:

By Bob Haywood, Sunday Mercury. Copyright © owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2002.


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