March 16, 2009 / 5:59 PM / 10 years ago

Nigerian student gets 19 years' jail for love scam

LAGOS (Reuters) - A Nigerian undergraduate has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for obtaining $47,000 (33,382 pounds) from an Australian woman by convincing her over the Internet that he was 57 years old, white, and madly in love with her.

Lawal Adekunle Nurudeen met his victim on the Internet in 2007 and convinced her that he was a British widower called Benson Lawson. He said he was an engineer working in Lagos whose wife and only child had been killed in a car accident.

“The victim, a 56-year-old woman from Australia, told the convict that she wanted a husband and all the men she had met always disappointed her,” said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-corruption police.

“The convict, who is married with three children, instantly replied and told the victim she had met her Mr Right ... He sent the picture of a white man to foreclose any suspicions.”

The woman sent Nurudeen money for medical treatment and travel costs to visit Australia. He spent the funds on two plots of land and a Honda Prelude car.

Nigerian confidence tricksters have a long history of extorting money via the Internet through “419” scams, named after the clause that outlaws them in Nigeria’s penal code. Many are never caught.

The EFCC said Nurudeen was ordered to pay around $10,000 immediately and a further $250 a month to his victim until the full amount stolen was returned. She would also receive the proceeds of the sale of his land and car.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Reporting by Nick Tattersall

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