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Woman stole $450,000 for Nigerian scam

A Christchurch woman took over $450,000 from her employer to give to fraudsters in the vain hope of making millions of dollars.

Jacqueline Louise de Berri, 48, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court yesterday to 12 counts of dishonestly using a bank telegraphic-transfer form between July and December last year.

De Berri, a credit controller at the Christchurch Airport branch of the Hertz rental car company, was taken in by a so-called “Nigerian scam”, but used company money rather than her own to pay the fraudsters.

She wired $452,000 from Hertz’s account to various Spanish bank accounts after receiving a fax indicating that an engineer, Alan M Jackson, had died, and had left an unclaimed US$14.8 million (NZ$21.3m) inheritance.

A Spanish “solicitor” said he was looking for Jackson’s relatives to dispose of the money.

De Berri thought she was a cousin of Jackson and after several emails between the pair, she was asked to forward 1000.

Court documents showed she transferred NZ$3520 to a Spanish bank account, and then, a week later, $19,449. Over the next five months she made 10 further transfers – with amounts ranging up to $70,055.

The police summary of facts said when de Berri was confronted, she “freely admitted” she had transferred the sums “hoping that on payment of the US$14.8m she would be able to repay the money”.

De Berri was described as “very embarrassed”, and she had apologised to the company.

She had admitted that the value of the transfers had gotten “out of hand”.

Police said that in a “Nigerian scam” the money was immediately withdrawn from the overseas accounts and could not be recovered. Reparation of $452,206 was sought.

Hertz declined to comment yesterday.

Judge Raoul Neave remanded de Berri 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.

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February 15, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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