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Scam Watch

August 19, 2007|David Colker

The pitch: "You are getting $86,000! And a wife!"

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The scam: In yet another variation of the West African online money scam, a sheep farmer in Australia recently was taken in by a promise of marriage from a woman in Mali, according to the BBC. Not only that, but the farmer, Des Gregor, would get a dowry in gold worth about $86,000.

The reality: When Gregor got to Mali, he was met at the airport by "relatives" of the "bride-to-be." But this was no bachelor party. They took him to an apartment, stripped him naked, held a gun to his head and told him he would be killed unless they were paid $86,000.

The aftermath: Alarmed by strange e-mails asking for

money, Gregor's relatives alerted Australian authorities. In a sting operation, the kidnappers were told that Gregor could

pick up the ransom at the

Canadian Embassy. Instead,

the now-sheepish farmer

was rescued, after 12 days of captivity, and put on a flight home.

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david.colker@latimes.com

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