A college student in Nigeria has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for scamming an Australian woman out of $47,000 online by pretending to be a widowed white businessman desperately in love with her.
A court in Ikeja in southwest Nigeria ruled that Lawal Adekunie Nurudeen will also have to pay back the 56-year-old woman, even if it meant selling the two plots of land and the Honda Prelude he bought with her money.
Nurudeen was an engineering student when he met the woman online in 2007, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria's anti-corruption police.
The woman lamented that she was looking for a husband but had been disappointed in the men she had met.
"The convict, who is married with three children, instantly applied and told the victim that she had met Mr. Right," the commission said in a statement.
Nurudeen pretended to be a 57-year-old British engineer working with a multinational company in Nigeria. He told her his wife and only child had died in a road accident in Lagos, the former capital of the country.
"He sent the picture of a white man to the victim to foreclose any suspicions," police said. The woman agreed to marry him.
A few weeks later, Nurudeen called the woman pretending to be a doctor. He told her that her fiance had been in an accident and needed money for treatment.
The woman obliged, the commission said.
Nurudeen let two weeks pass. He then called the woman again, thanking her profusely for her kindness and telling her that he would like to visit her in Australia. He asked her for airfare, cash for customs clearance and other incidentals, police said.
Authorities did not say how Nurudeen was caught. But he duped the woman of $47,000 before his arrest, the commission said.
Scammers in Nigeria have gained a reputation for using the Internet to con foreign nationals out of money. Some of the scams have earned the name "419" after the clause in the Nigerian criminal code that deals with obtaining property under false pretense.