“If you want to earn easy money to the tune of $7.5 million, contact me immediately.” This is the message that Piyush Kankaria, a city-based businessman, found sitting at the top of his mailbox one morning a few months ago. The sender of the e-mail was a man from Benin City in Nigeria.
Kankaria wanted the money and did all that the mystery mails asked him to do. Now poorer by a brand new mobile handset and his get-rich-quick dream, he has landed at the door of the police. The incident was recorded by the Howrah police on Friday afternoon and was transferred to the CID for collaboration with the Interpol.
The mailer, identified as Ben Kamay, is learnt to have floated such fake mails worldwide and Kankaria is one among many to have been duped.
The road to riches Kamay showed was smooth. According to him, a moneyed man of Nigeria, Patrick Muller, had left behind a fortune with no heir and all Kankaria had to do was state that he was the legal heir. Kamay would just take out five per cent of the inheritance for his efforts.
Kamay sent Kankaria a form which he had to fill up and send to Benin City. The Nigerian even despatched copies of Muller’s death certificate and fictitious bank account statements. A few days after Kankaria sent him the form, Kamay asked for “processing fees” in dollars so that the money could be transferred to his account. Kankaria said he could not pay in dollars and sent Kamay a new Nokia mobile handset instead. He also enclosed a copy of his passport, which the Nigerian had wanted “for verification”. “Kankaria was convinced that the money would be his soon,” said special superintendent-I (CID) Ramphal Powar.
After a few days, he received another mail, which said that the money was ready to be handed over at Mumbai. He was even sent a photograph of a room stashed with dollars.
Kankaria was asked to pay $ 15,000. When Kankaria offered to pay in kind, he was asked for a laptop. The blinkers fell off when the businessman went to consult his friends.
“How can a person who is not of Nigerian descent and doesn’t even know the dead man claim his property' We are also probing the case independently,” said superintendent of police, Howrah, Zulfiquar Hasan on Saturday. “Another man has reported a mail stating that he could claim $15.5 million belonging to a person who died in the 1986 Concorde crash,” Powar added.