First it was Nigerians claiming to be sons, daughters or spouses of oil magnates or overthrown dictators. Then it was Zimbabweans claiming to be sons, daughters or spouses of farmers evicted by Robert Mugabe’s administration. Now the scam, popularly known as 419 after Nigeria’s penal code that outlaws advance fraud, seems to have crept into Zambia, where mining is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner.
A Patrick Buleke claims to have US$15 million to share with anyone who can help him open an offshore account to stash away the money. Buleke who claims to be from the Contracts Award Monitoring Committee of the Zambian Ministry of Mining and Resources says he is seeking assistance to enable him transfer the sum of US$15 000000 into one’s private or company account.
“The fund came up as a result of a contract awarded and executed for and on behalf of my Ministry,” he says in an e-mail message sent to The Insider.
“The contract was supposed to be awarded to two foreign contractors to the tune of US$180,000,000.00. But in the course of negotiation, the contract was awarded to a Bulgarian contractor at the cost of US$165,000,000.00 to our advantage unknown to the contractor.
“This contract has been satisfactorily executed and inspected as the Bulgarian firm is presently securing payment from my Ministry, where our Board is in-charge of all foreign contract payment approval.
“As a civil servant still in active government service, I am forbidden by law to operate an account outside the shores of Zambia. Hence this message to you seeking your assistance so as to enable me present your private/company account details as a beneficiary of contractual claims alongside that of the Bulgarian contractor, to enable me transfer the difference of US$15,000,000.00 into your provided account.
“On actualization, the fund will be disbursed as stated below: 20% of the fund will be for you as beneficiary. 80% of the fund will be for us. All logistics are in place and all modalities worked out for a smooth actualization of the transaction within the next few working days of commencement.
“For further details as to the workability of this transaction, please reach me as soon as possible for further clarification. Thank you and God bless as I await your urgent response. Yours Sincerely, PATRICK BULEKE.”
Though this story sounds too good to be true, the scam is reported to be Nigeria’s fifth largest growth industry and has raked in US$5 billion. Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service says Britons lose 150 million pounds to the scam every year.