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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 11:35 GMT
Suicide of internet scam victim
A man died after setting himself on fire when he was cheated in an internet money-laundering scam, an inquest heard.

Leslie Fountain's body was discovered in a field in Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, on his 48th birthday, days after he thought he had won $1.2 million in an internet lottery.

Mr Fountain, a senior technician at Anglia Polytechnic University, had debts of 25,000 and thought the win would solve all his financial problems.

When he realised he had been tricked he became depressed, the inquest at Shire Hall, Cambridge, was told.

Can of petrol

He spent the evening before his death trying to access his winnings through the internet but became increasingly frustrated as he realised he was not going to get the money.

The following morning Mr Fountain, of Woottens Close, Comberton, near Cambridge, bought a can of petrol and left a message for his wife, Roberta, saying he could no longer "handle things".

His badly burned body was found shortly after 1100 GMT on 18 November last year with a petrol can and matches lying nearby.

A post-mortem examination showed he died of injuries suffered in the fire.

Detective Sergeant Alan Page told the inquest that officers found Mr Fountain had been taken in by an internet scam which had been run from Amsterdam and was now being investigated by Interpol.

Money laundering

The operation involved emailing people to tell them they had won and asking for bank account details so the money could be transferred.

Instead, the accounts were used for laundering money.

Deputy Coroner Dr Colin Lattimore recorded a verdict of suicide and said: "Mr Fountain killed himself while suffering from depression, caused by what would have been good news but turned out to be very bad news."

After the inquest Mr Page warned other internet users to be careful of cash scams.

"Anyone who gets an email saying they have won lots of money like this should ignore it and never pass on their bank details. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," he said.

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