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Gaddafi fraud scam nets 250,000 from Austrian

An Austrian man is facing fraud charges after he not only believed an email telling him that if he transferred money to bank accounts in England and Ghana he would get a share of Gaddafi's fortune – but he also persuaded his friends to get involved as well.

Now they want their money back – and are suing the 66-year-old from Leibnitz in Styria. Prosecutors are also charging him with fraud.

The man's trouble started in March last year when he was sent an email from a man in Nigeria claiming that he was a refugee from the Gaddafi regime, and had stashed millions in European banks but he needed funding in order to help him access it.

Every time the man paid the requested amount a new reason appeared why they needed more money to solve a new problem – and by the time the other investors had started demanding their money back the pensioner had transferred 250,000 pounds to the fraudsters – believing right up to the end that it was a genuine offer.

The email said: "I have access to gold, cash and diamonds worth 40 million dollars that used to belong to Gaddafi and deposited in Madrid, London and Dubai. I need the money to pay the deposit fees and it will be handed over to me."

The pensioner who did not have a lot of savings invested everything he had – and then persuaded a 33-year-old friend from the neighbourhood to get involved. Together the pair then roped in others on the promise of a share in the fortune.

Detective Günter Schaffer who investigated the case said: "He really fell for the scam hook line and sinker. Every time he transferred something there was a new story about why they needed more money, and he always found it somewhere. They even arranged to meet him in Madrid and Dubai where the story got even more complicated and elaborate in order to put the man of the scent and allay his suspicions."

Police heard that he had borrowed 70,000 euros from another contact in Graz and he had even persuaded a man he met on the plane to Dubai to give him another 28,000 euros – all of which he handed over to his Nigerian connection.

Police said he would probably have carried on borrowing and handing over the money if one of his creditors had not reported him to the police. Now the pensioner and his 33-year-old business partner face fraud charges and ruin because they have to pay the money back that they borrowed.

Police added that the chances of recovering any of the money or those behind the fraud was unlikely.

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