Fake sheikh scammers jailed

TWO Nigerian men have been jailed for fooling a Marbella woman into sending them about €800,000.

An initial jail sentence of four and a half years for continued fraud for one of the defendants and one of two years in jail for money laundering for the other issued by Malaga Provincial Court has now been confirmed by the Spanish High Court.

The victim, a doctor, was caught out by what the courts referred to as a romance scam. She was contacted on Facebook in March 2014 by somebody claiming to be Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. After accepting the friend request, the woman was wooed and sent flattering messages almost constantly, the court heard. Eventually the fake sheikh proposed, promising the woman a life of luxury, and convinced her with faked yet perfectly credible Skype video chats.

Claiming to be unable to become involved for political reasons, the scammers persuaded their victim to make bank transfers and payments, supposedly to help Syrian refugees, and later in taxes for a promised donation of €5 million.

It was only when, after the sheikh’s failure to appear at promised trysts, the victim contacted the Spanish embassy in Dubai to demand her tax payments were returned that she discovered she had been fooled and helped the police catch one of the scammers.

This type of scam is far more frequent than it appears, the high court warned, yet the majority of victims fail to report the crimes due to embarrassment or fear of becoming the brunt of jokes.



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