From the NY Times: The Doomsday Scam

Many thanks to the New York Times and CJ Chivers for call attention to the Red Mercury hoax.

As Chivers says in the article:

“In southern Africa, it has cost lives. According to a regional and especially cruel variation of the legend, the substance is found in conventional military munitions, particularly land mines, there to be claimed by anyone daring enough to take them apart and extract the goods. Tom Dibb, the program manager in Zimbabwe for the Halo Trust, a private mine-clearing organization, said he and the local authorities have documented people being killed in explosions while hunched over land mines or mortar bombs with hand tools.


“In the bloodiest incident, in 2013, six people were killed near Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, by a blast in the home of a faith healer. One victim was an infant. Dibb spoke with the police and said ‘‘they were pretty convinced that it was a tank mine being taken apart for red mercury.’’ In another case, which Dibb examined himself, two men were killed and another wounded as they tried harvesting land mines for red-mercury extraction from a minefield. The most recent death that the Halo Trust investigated occurred on Nov. 1, Dibb said, when a 22-year-old man, Godknows Katchekwama, was killed while trying to dismantle and remove red mercury from an R2M2, a South African antipersonnel land mine about the size of a tuna can [pictured below].”


R2M2 photo from CAT-UXO

South African-made R2M2 anti-personnel landmine, image from

In the comments for the article, one person says:

“When I lived in West Africa in the early 1980s, people would occasionally approach me to ask if I could procure them some “mercure rouge” (red mercury). (Perhaps they thought as a foreigner I would have access to such things). As I recall, it was believed to be useful for conjuring up large amounts of paper currency through some kind of sorcery.”

This suggests that the Red Mercury hoax exists beyond Southern Africa where we’ve documented it.

Spread the word.  Red Mercury isn’t real and no more lives should be lost in fruitless pursuit.

Michael P. Moore

November 19, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

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