THE Malaga provincial court has sentenced a Nigerian man who convinced a Marbella doctor that he was an Arab sheikh and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates to four-and-a-half years in prison, with his accomplice receiving a two-year sentence.
He also told the woman that he had fallen in love with her after contacting her through Facebook, and the pair later had a Skype video conference in which he inserted an image of the true UAE minister, Mohammed Bin Raschid Al Makhoun, dubbed over with his own voice.
During the initial period of contact, the fake Sheikh asked to be friends with the doctor and began to shower her with flattering comments, even proposing marriage and declaring that if she accepted he would quit his job and change her life.
After receiving a steady stream of messages in which the fraudster declared his undying love for her, she started to trust her princely admirer, with her confidence eventually reaching a point where she agreed to make a series of payments to the man’s account.
The hapless doctor thus handed over considerable sums of money, including one deposit of €25,000, being told that the funds would be used to fight terrorism or help innocent Syrians who died in the war, with the bogus nobleman unable to transfer the cash himself for fear of sparking a diplomatic incident, and pledging compensation of €1.5 million.
Once all the money had been received, the ersatz minister asked the woman how much cash she had available, dispatching a henchman posing as a Syrian delegate to Puerto Banus in order to collect the €50,000 she agreed to donate.
The victim eventually realised she was being scammed, and contacted the Spanish embassy in Dubai in June 2014, demanding the money be returned to her.
She was referred to Spanish police, who concocted a plan to unmask the culprits, by convincing them that she was willing to provide more capital, and they arranged a meeting for July 9, 2014.
The phoney Syrian appeared clutching a bunch of flowers and hand-written letter from the Sheikh, leading to the arrest of both men, who must now compensate the victim to the tune of €585,000.