Australian head of Nigerian scam caught

Friday, 31 October 2003, 12:24 PM EST

An Australian pensioner managed to defraud $5 million from unsuspecting victims, including a Saudi Arabian sheikh, in a global internet scam, a NSW court was told today.

The alleged Australian head of the so-called Nigerian or West African scam, Sydney resident Nick Marinellis, made a brief appearance in the Dubbo Local Court today.

The 39-year-old father of two was arrested yesterday during a raid on his Nyngan "holiday home".

Facts tendered to the court today revealed police investigations began on February 26 this year after a complaint from the Hungarian Consulate that a "Dr Nick Marinellis" had called requiring $US2,500 ($A3,560).

The scam involved the distribution of spam emails which conned people into believing they could claim millions of dollars through lottery winnings, an inheritance or a business opportunity if they first sent off money for "expenses".

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