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Email scam targets Mandela Foundation

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which promotes "the values, vision and work" of the former South African president, has denounced an email scam which asks people to send money to fraudsters who have borrowed the foundation's name.

The plausible-sounding appeal for funds begins with a detailed account of what it calls a "Centre of Memory capturing in perpetuity the life and times of the founder". It claims its plans for any money collected include "the creation of a unique facility for researchers working on the life and times of the founder".

Towards the end of the message, the quality of English abruptly deteriorates as it concludes: "We here by asking for your donation and willing donation to make this children's going any thing is acceptable with GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE you can send anything that you have..."

The appeal is signed "Dr Zulu Ken" and gives an email address in India.

Mr Mandela, 91, retired in 2004 and appears in public only rarely, but his foundation is kept increasingly busy trying to fend off attempts to exploit his charisma.

In October, the group rebuked the South African actress Charlize Theron for auctioning a meeting with Mr Mandela for charity, and the President of Congo-Brazzaville for passing off an old Mandela speech as the specially-written foreword for his new book.

This week it attacked a gift shop in Johannesburg for selling "Nelson Mandela air fresheners". "What they are doing is illegal because they don't have Mr Mandela's permission,"said Achmat Dangor, the chief executive of the foundation.