Every three or four months I get an e-mail from somewhere in Africa. The most recent was from Dr Kadri Sadiq, Federal Housing Estate, Road 18, Special Unit, Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo. It was addressed to me personally at an old e-mail address and headed 'Urgent Business Proposal/Investment Assistance'.
Kadri Sadiq, the text claims, is a former 'Special Assistance on Internal Security to the late President Kabila who was assassinated on the 16 January 2001'. The e-mail goes on with uncanny prescience: 'You may be surprise to receive my letter on the grounds that we have not met before. But never mind, you will get to understand the situation and my reason of contacting you as you read further. Before the assassination of President Kabila, I - moved the sum of Twenty Five Million United States Dollars out of the Democratic Republic of Congo for safekeeping in Africa. With his death and our inability to inform his business partner in Europe of this last arrangement, there is no other person who knows about this money, except me.'
Sadiq goes on to ask 'for your urgent assistance to help me move this money to your account... There is no risk involved in this and I assure you of a smooth and 100 per cent risk free transaction.You are please to maintain absolute confidentiality in this matter'.
Oh, sorry Sadiq, I forgot that bit. And here is the lure: 'Apart from the joint business participation, I will be very willing to give you a 25 per cent share of the total money I got. NB: Please all communication strictly by e-mail.'
This is, of course, not a business proposal but a well-known con. It is an appeal to engage in criminality which is justifiable because the country in question is black, backward and probably lawless.Oh, and because the profit is several million dollars. Lots of otherwise sensible, professional people have given details of their bank account ... and found it emptied the next day.