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American kidnapped in Benin victim of Internet scam

COTONOU  (AFP) – An American abducted in the West African nation of Benin is believed to have fallen victim to an Internet scam and a ransom has been demanded for their release, a police source said Wednesday.

“It is a case of cybercrime and the victim was trapped,” a police source in Benin said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“The criminals are in contact with the family in the United States and they are demanding a ransom.”

Details of the kidnapping remained unclear. A US embassy spokeswoman in neighbouring Nigeria at the weekend said a US citizen had been kidnapped in Benin last week, but could provide no further details.

A message on the US embassy in Cotonou’s website on Wednesday said “a US citizen was recently kidnapped in Benin. The US embassy in Cotonou has no reason to believe that other US citizens or interests are at risk.”

It said no other details were being provided for now and added that an investigation was ongoing.

Security sources in Benin say the victim was thought to have crossed into the country on May 22 from Togo, where he met up with a group that included Nigerians.

Kidnappings have been rare in Benin, a former French colony of some nine million people, though they occur regularly in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.

A number of people have been kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria after having fallen victim to Internet scams promising lucrative business opportunities.

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