SENEGAL SWOOP ON E-MAIL SCAMMERS

Internet

Eight people have been arrested in Dakar after an e-mail scam involving hundreds of thousands of US dollars. The money was allegedly extorted from at least one US citizen and a Norwegian national.They thought they were going to get their share in a million dollar inheritance from a son of the late Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

Senegalese police believe the list of victims is much longer, and investigations are still going on. The police say the victims were lured by an offer made through the internet by a Dakar-based cyber-gang pretending to be in possession of USD12m.

The suspects - six Nigerian men and two Senegalese women - allegedly told their victims they needed cash upfront in order to make these funds available. The US citizen is presented by the local media as a top academic who had invested USD350,000 in the operation.

However, the press services of the US embassy would not confirm his identity. According to the police, the mastermind of the operation is a Nigerian national posing as the son of the late President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the two women in the gang is the leader's wife.

The bank accounts of the Senegalese nationals were used to transfer thousands of dollars from the victims. Police say these accounts, which contain millions of CFA francs, have now been frozen. During the operation, started at the end of last year and concluded only last week, the police seized millions of CFA francs in cash, a luxury car, several computers and other electronic equipment. The police say they believe many others might already have fallen into the gang's trap and hope these silent victims will now show their faces.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4509837.stm