African fraudsters target UK property market

West African fraudsters are inviting people to invest in a property purchasing scheme, in a new take on the classic Nigerian scam.

An email entitled ‘I need a good property manager’ was sent to Mortgage Strategy from a Matthew Opara, allegedly a Nigerian former local government chairman who now specialises in private shipping.

Opara writes that he intends to purchase properties in the UK as an investment and asks for help finding residential and commercial properties, as well as land to buy. He states he intends to invest $15m.

Unlike previous email fraud schemes, there is no mention of transferring money to bank accounts or depositing cheques but Opara does ask for phone and fax contact details as well as personal information about the email recipient.

He writes: “My need to acquire these properties is urgent, as I am planning to move out of my country with my family down to your country.”

A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard says: “Nobody who receives such invitations should reply.”