A Joburg man is in hiding after being accused of being a dangerous Nigerian human trafficker in a chain email.

Four pictures of Mark Hendricks sitting in a car are attached to the email, which reads: "People please beware of this Nigerian man in the pics (sic) as he is very dangerous and is in the business of selling young girls and boys.

"He also preys on ladies that are single to get them into the HUMAN Trafficking circle. If you do see him please just ignore him and get away from him as far as possible and alert the police ASAP.

"Please circulate this picture to everyone you know. The more people see his face, the less chance he has of getting to one of our children."

Hendricks said his photo had been pasted in shops in his neighbourhood and Eldorado Park and that CSS Tactical Security also published pictures in its weekly newsletter of June 15-22. The emails began circulating last week.

Hendricks, who lives in Noordgesig, claimed it was written by his friend Fatima Mohamed, who works for Absa.

He said the pictures were those he sent to her and other friends a few months ago. Mohamed sent him and 34 others the email last week, but he said he knew only four people on the mail list.

But the email spread like wildfire - to the point where Hendricks's human resources manager contacted Mohamed's HR manager to complain that someone using the bank's resources had harmed their employee's reputation.

Afterwards, Hendricks said, Mohamed told him that the email was meant to be a joke.

However, the 39-year-old man failed to see the humour in that and has opened a case of defamation. Warrant Officer Johannes Maja of the Randburg police confirmed they were investigating.

Hendricks said he wanted Mohamed, who is pregnant, to be punished for ruining his life.

"I am angry at her and would have sued her, but she does not have money. I don't know what she was thinking. She must be a taught a lesson to stop sending chain mails.

"I live in fear for my safety, and now that we are hosting the World Cup and there are stories about human trafficking, this could have not come at a worse time.

"I used to go to the malls and hang out with my friends, but I don't do that anymore. I just go to work and go straight home afterwards. I am scared. You never know with some people, they probably saw my picture and might harm me or call the police," he said.

Absa chief marketing and communication officer Happy Ntshingila said they are investigating.

Mohamed refused to comment.