Dead rabbi used by internet scammers

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

Internet scammers are attempting to embezzle money using the names of late philanthropist Benzion Dunner and a Scottish law professor.

An email, sent from Hong Kong and written in broken English, asks recipients to provide legal documents in order to share funds left in the will of Rabbi Dunner, who died in a car crash last March.

The email states: “I do not wish to bore you with much stories [sic], my intention of writing you this mail is to solicit for your partnership in a rewarding venture with funds left by my deceased client by name: Benzion Dunner.”

It appears to be signed by “Professor John W Cairns” and gives a postal address at the University of Edinburgh.

The real Professor Cairns, who is based at the university, said this week he had never previously heard of Rabbi Dunner and was mystified by the email connecting them.

The legal history professor said: “The IT people tell me I’m not the only one at the university this has happened to.

“Apparently there is nothing I can do about it because the email originated outside the country. It’s an inconvenience only in that I have had a lot of calls, often from German academics, telling me what’s happened and that my identity has been appropriated.

“I had never heard of Rabbi Dunner before the email last week. I hope no one thinks this is sinister on my part. People would have to be pretty stupid to think it is from me. It’s all just rather strange.”

Rabbi Dunner, who was 45, described himself as “God’s postman” and gave away £2 million to poor and needy Jews two days before his death.

Last updated: 4:52pm, February 5 2009