Nearly $500,000 lost in Nigerian scam

04:48, Feb 04 2010

A Christchurch woman fell victim to a Nigerian scam and lost nearly half a million dollars of her employer's money, a court was told today.

Jacqueline Louise de Berri, 48, transferred $452,206 from the rental company she worked for at Christchurch Airport to bank accounts in Spain.

Under the Nigerian scam, the money was immediately transferred out of the accounts and Christchurch District Court was told this afternoon that none of it had been recovered.

De Berri pleaded guilty to 13 charges of dishonestly using bank telegraph transfer forms to obtain the money.

Police prosecutor Constable Andy Kennedy said de Berri had worked as a credit controller for the rental car firm since 1996, transferring funds to other branches of the international company.

Last year she received a fax saying that an engineer had died leaving US$14.8 million in a Spanish bank account.

The fax said they were looking for relatives who may be claimants for the money.

De Berri replied and exchanged a series of emails.

Eventually a request arrived for a deposit of 1000 Euros, which she paid.

More requests for money followed until by December 15 she had paid across a total of $452,206 in 13 transactions.

When confronted, de Berri freely admitted the transfers saying she had hoped to be able to claim some of the $14.8 million to repay the money and get her out of the financial stress she was under.

She has no previous convictions.

She is now unemployed.

Judge Raoul Neave remanded her on bail to April 28 for a probation report and a reparation report on her ability to pay back the money.

A report will also cover her suitability to serve a sentence of home or community detention.