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‘Greedy’ scam victim jailed

A “greedy” Christchurch woman who stole almost half a million dollars from her employer and gave it to a Nigerian scamster has been sent to jail for two years and four months.

Jacqueline Louise de Berri, 48, 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.

De Berri stole $452,000 from Hertz to give to the fraudsters, in the vain hope of making millions of dollars in return.

A large group of relatives supporting her in court were visibly upset as she was led away and did not want to comment to journalists.

She pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court in February to 12 counts of dishonestly using a bank telegraphic-transfer form between July and December last year.

District Court Judge Fred McElrea said today that the offending was “extremely serious” and contained an element of greed. He would not consider home detention. Nor was reparation an option because of her lack of money or assets.

De Berri 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 had apologised to the company.

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

Police said that in such a Nigerian scam the money was immediately withdrawn from the overseas accounts and could not be recovered.

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April 28, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. The story of how De Berri was tricked is all too common and I’ve read several stories of how people who thought themselves intelligent just couldn’t understand how they fell for it. I think some psychological factor overrides common sense and repeated warning about scams, so people don’t think twice. They keep giving more and more money because they cling to hope that it will pay off. And these fraudsters can be very slick and manipulative in persuading them to give more.

    De Berri has ended up even worse than most victims, who at least lose their own money on these scams. Stealing her company’s money has not only ruined her life and career but will blight her future prospects when she is released. Not to mention hurting a lot of people.

    If De Berri had stolen money for herself, then Hertz at least would have a chance of recovering the money; transferring to the fraudster’s accounts means they have none, and realistically the police don’t have much chance of catching them. So everybody loses – except the fraudsters, of course.

    Comment by Catlover | April 29, 2010 | Reply


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