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Woman sentenced for role in Nigerian scam

By Heather Polischuk, Leader-Post

A Regina woman received a community-based sentence for her role in a Nigerian scam that targeted hundreds of American citizens in 2009 and 2010.

Roseanne Nightingale pleaded guilty to a fraud charge during an appearance at Regina Provincial Court on Wednesday.

Court heard the 44-year-old, who was attempting to support her family while on social assistance, became involved in the ploy as a way to earn some extra money for groceries and items for her children.

At first, she hadn’t realized she was doing anything illegal in mailing off the cheques sent to her from Nigeria. She eventually found out otherwise.

“I should have stopped when I realized,” she acknowledged in court.

Her defence lawyer Pat Reis said his client had earlier expressed her remorse, telling him, “I feel sorry for what I did. I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

Crown prosecutor Jerome Tholl said it’s not known whether Nightingale’s actions did, in fact, hurt anyone directly.

Despite police having discovered a list of numerous names, no one got back to investigators to say they had, in fact, lost any money as a result of the scam.

Court heard that on Nov. 10, 2010, Canada Border Services Agency officers discovered a package of pre-filled cashiers cheques and U.S. postal money orders en route to Nightingale’s address from Nigeria.

The cheques and money orders were found to be forgeries and represented a total of $260,100.

While Nightingale wasn’t involved in the forgeries, she was the intended recipient and the find led police to execute a search warrant at her Regina home 10 days later. At that time, police seized a computer that contained emails from a Nigerian contact, cheque printing software and lists of “jobs” with hundreds of names of would-be American targets.

The ploy, known as an advanced payment scheme, had Nightingale sending off the phoney cheques to the targets with instructions to contact an email address (not hers) for further instruction. From there, the would-be victims would be asked to deposit the cheques into their personal bank accounts. The target would then be told to obtain a money order or a certified cheque for a lesser amount – supposedly allowing them to keep a certain amount for their trouble – to a separate address (not Nightingale’s). With this type of scheme, the cheque or money order eventually bounces, leaving the victim out their money.

Nightingale admitted to police she’d been involved in sending the cheques, estimating she’d sent at least a couple hundred over the course of about a year. She said she received only a few thousand dollars for her role.

While Tholl said there was no evidence of actual monetary loss to the victims, “risk of deprivation” was all that was needed to make out the fraud charge – leading to the guilty plea.

Judge Jeff Kalmakoff agreed to impose the jointly recommended sentence, an 18-month conditional sentence. The order contains numerous conditions, including that Nightingale spend the first six months under house arrest. She is also to report any activity for which she receives payment and not contact anyone connected with Nigeria in relation to business matters.

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May 24, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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