|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
Egypt Con Man Gets 1,000 Years
Members of the con man's family insist he was just making a living
By Ranyah Sabry
Cairo, May 16, 2008 – An Egyptian man has been sentenced to 1,000 years in prison for defrauding hundreds of people out of about $52m.
Abdullah Kamel Mohammed tricked people into giving him money which he promised to invest and split the profits with them. Mohammed would then disappear.
He is believes to have tricked about 500 people out of their savings, starting in the early 1980s.
Members of his family have appeared on TV blaming the victims for being naive enough to hand him their money.
As an unemployed man, his family argue, Mohammed was merely trying to make a living.
Such cases come to light regularly in Egypt, where working middle class people seem ready to hand their life savings to a person they hardly know in return of a promise of 20% profit to be returned on monthly basis.
Weighing the promise against the current bank interest rate of about 8%, they opt to exchange their money for a signed piece of paper from the con man and pray for the best.
The first con men of this kind emerged in the 1980s. As the crime was new, the law was lax and allowed the early con men to flee the country with their gains or spend short terms in prison.
Some victims blame harsh living conditions they are desperate to escape.
Others blame the government for the light sentences that seem to encourage fraudsters.
The harsh sentence handed down to Mohammed may go some way to discouraging con men, but will Egyptians learn not to fall for the same scam?
Source: BBC News