Name suppression bid for alleged scammer who got scammed
A prominent Bay of Plenty man who allegedly fraudulently made $830,000, and then lost it to a "Nigerian 419 scam'' went to the Court of Appeal today to try to keep his name suppressed.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has laid four charges of obtaining by deception against the man, whose lawyer asked the Court of Appeal in Auckland to overturn a High Court ruling dismissing the accused's bid to keep his name secret.
The man allegedly made $830,000 by fraudulent means, which he went on to invest in an African-based scheme.
The Rotorua Daily Post reported he expected to make US$5 million (NZD$5.9 million) from the investment.
The SFO's general manager of fraud and corruption Nick Patterson said this turned out to be a con, with the hallmarks of a "Nigerian 419 scam''.
"This isn't necessarily one of those but it appears to be something similar" he said.
The scams, many of which operate out of Nigeria, usually involve a letter or email which is sent to many - sometimes millions - of recipients making an offer that would purportedly result in a large payout for the victim.
Although the vast majority of recipients do not respond, a small percentage do - enough to make the fraud worthwhile.
Sums of money which are substantial, but less than the promised profit, are said to be required in advance for things like bribes and fees.
This is then stolen from the victim.
The accused man's lawyer Jeremy Bioletti today said that even if his client was convicted of fraud he could still be said to be a victim of a transnational crime.
Mr Bioletti submitted that this meant he fell into a separate category from people charged with only a domestic crime.
"Because he would fall outside the normal parameters of domestic criminal defendants it would stand to reason that his position needs to be assessed in accordance with the unique factors that apply to it.
"In exceptional circumstances arguments in favour of name suppression based on international obligations may prevail over the principle of open justice.''
The panel of three judges - Justices Lyn Stevens, Judith Potter and Ronald Young - reserved their decision.
The man's trial is set down for October.