NSW police have arrested a Sydney man and claim to have cracked a multi-million dollar so-called Nigerian Internet scam.
The scam -- dubbed the Nigerian or West African scam -- involves fraudsters sending out a flood of spam emails conning people into believing they could claim millions of dollars through lottery winnings. The email then asks people to send off money for expenses to claim their winnings.
NSW police claim to have cracked what they allege was a multi-million-dollar international "Nigerian fraud" syndicate operating out of Sydney. After receiving tip-offs from Hungary and Canada, police yesterday raided two houses in Sydney and one in the central-western NSW town of Nyngan, seizing a number of computers and documents.
In an orchestrated bust yesterday, officers seized houses in Australia and the UK, five cars and several bank accounts and arrested a 39-year-old Sydney man suspected of tricking hundreds of people from Australia and overseas out of millions.
Police said the arrest follows a four-month investigation by the NSW police Assets Confiscation Unit (ACU) into the Sydney based syndicate.
Inspector Jennifer Thommeny, Commander ACU, said the alleged scam was no different to "Nigerian" emails, which have been circulated for years.
“West African type frauds, such as lottery scams and 'business investment opportunities', have netted millions of dollars from thousands of unwitting victims around the world,” Thommeny said.
“Traditionally police have found it difficult to apprehend offenders who carry out these frauds because victims usually live overseas and in most cases are too embarrassed to come forward.”
Thommeny said police had identified victims who have been targeted in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Cyprus, Malaysia, Japan, Norway, Greece, Indonesia, Hong Kong and England. In many cases victims were conned into handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars.
She also issued a warning to any member of the public approached to invest in a West African business opportunity or asked to hand over bank account details to “process” lottery wins.
“Don't be conned -- if it sounds too good to be true it usually is,” Thommeny said.