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Adelaide scam victim-turned-perpetrator David Lee Andrew jailed for role in African schemes

By court reporter Candice Prosser - ABC Australia - 17-08-09a
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Photo: The court heard the Ghanaian and Nigerian scams were largely implausible (file photo). (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Australia - The "bizarre and ridiculous" behaviour of a man who worked on behalf African scammers, after himself falling victim to their fraudulent schemes, has baffled an Adelaide judge who said he could not "pin down" the motivation for the crimes.

David Lee Andrew, 65, pleaded guilty to 43 counts of money laundering, reduced from hundreds of charges and was sentenced to at least 14 months in jail.

The South Australian District Court heard Andrew was himself scammed, handing over $2 million of what was primarily his sick wife's inheritance, but continued to help the scammers by providing his Australian bank account as a conduit for other victims.

The court heard the Ghanaian and Nigerian scams were varied and implausible, and included an appeal for donations for sick children, bonds for rental accommodation and upfront tax on lotto wins.

Judge Stephen McEwen said Andrew's significant role in the offending was not motivated by financial gain and was bizarre.

He said Andrew had acted as a conduit between the victims in Australia and "the greedy scammers in Africa" for no apparent reason.

"It is difficult to pin down just what the defendant's motivation was," Judge McEwen said.

"The psychiatric report doesn't really get to the bottom of precisely what [it] was.

"As well as losing his own money, he had repeated warnings by the police that he was involving himself in scam transactions."

But Andrew "steadfastly refused to accept those warnings" and continued to help the scammers, even after his arrest.

"His protestations even at this late stage of submissions through his counsel that police didn't show him enough hard evidence I consider to be bizarre and ridiculous," Judge McEwen said.

"He had lost his own, or he and his wife's, money. The police on numerous occasions warned and spelled it out for him. His wife told him. The nature and number of the transactions made it plainly obvious."

Reoffending a concern once Andrew released, judge warns

Some of the victims and their banks had asked to reverse the transactions, but Andrew still refused to accept it was a scam.

The court heard Andrew's gullibility, social isolation and "underlying narcissistic personality" was such that he "found it offensive to be told by police or others that he was involving himself in scams".

Judge McEwen said Andrew's "irrational obsessive behaviour" and the "absence of a fully detailed rational explanation" made it difficult to understand his actions.

He sentenced Andrew to three years and two months in jail, with a non-parole period of 14 months.

Judge McEwen expressed concerns about Andrew's internet use once he was released.

"I respectfully recommend to the Parole Board that the issue of limiting or monitoring his internet use be carefully considered, as no-one has suggested to me that he will miraculously overcome his persistent, irrational obsessiveness," he said.

The judge also said the case highlighted the need for more scepticism in the community regarding online offers, quoting the old adage that "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

Tags: Adelaide, scam victim, David Lee Andrew, African, money laundering, Ghanaian and Nigerian scams, lotto

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