Three suspects have been released in the Spanish prisoner scam against where a retired teacher who was swindled out of €117,000, with the main suspect and two other women facing trial in January.
Authorities have pieced the case back together after a series of initial arrests, eventually identifying a 35-year-old Nigerian male as the main suspect along with two females, a Ukrainian national aged 39 and a 52-year-old British woman, who were allegedly his co-conspirators. They all face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, making illegal gains, and fraud.
The case is centered around a 63-year-old female victim who was duped by a man she met online into wiring a total of €117,000 out of her bank account. Reports said the suspect was promising marriage and told the woman he was a British medical doctor with the UN serving in Syria.
A Nigerian national, living in Paphos with his 25-year-old Greek Cypriot girlfriend and their 18-month-old child, turned out to be involved in the case. He reportedly admitted to police that he received money but said he took it on behalf of someone else.
He believed the foreign man was the son of a minister in Nigeria who needed help getting money out of the country
A 60-year-old Greek Cypriot local man was the first to be arrested on suspicion of fraud when investigators learned that money was deposited into his account. But he was later released, telling police he only provided his account for the money to sit with the understanding he would hand it back when needed. He said he believed the foreign man was the son of a minister in Nigeria who needed help getting money out of the country and into a local bank account in exchange of receiving a generous fee.
The Nigerian man’s girlfriend, a 25-year-old Greek Cypriot woman who was also arrested but latter released, also told investigators she was under the impression that the father of her child was receiving money from his father back home.
The three suspects made bail to the tune of €30,000 each while they will be required to report to a local police station three times a week. They have also surrendered their travel documents and have been put on a stop list. Their arrangement is scheduled for 23 January 2019.
Despite law enforcement alerting the public to “Nigeria Prince” scams, groups of fraudsters continue to make millions around the world using classic Spanish prisoner scams on unsuspecting victims, typically senior citizens who are tricked into having long conversations with con artists.