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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Nigerian jailed for e-mail scam
Peter Okoeguale
Peter Okoeguale is led from court
A Nigerian has been jailed for his part in a huge international e-mail fraud.

Peter Okoeguale, 33, was jailed for 20 months for his part in the e-mail fraud, also known as the Nigerian 419 scam.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard victims are promised a share of cash if they help with the movement of millions of dollars out of Africa.

But they are then duped into handing over cash themselves to overcome an unforeseen difficulty.

The prosecution said when Okoeguale was arrested he had floppy disks which could scan websites for e-mail addresses and for sending "spam" messages.

He pleaded guilty to going equipped to cheat and is the first person to be prosecuted in north Wales for advance fee fraud.

Given the gravity of this offence it's detrimental to the welfare of the UK that you should remain here
Judge John Rogers QC

Okoeguale was arrested as he was about to board a ferry from Holyhead to the Irish Republic, where he has a wife and son.

The prosecution said he had fake documents, one of which was headed 'Nigerian Police Force Contract Investigation Section' and urged the recipient to forward the details of any contact by corrupt government officials.


Okoeguale claimed he had been delivering the items to someone else.

Judge John Rogers QC recommended his deportation at the end of the sentence.

He told him: "You had in your possession a substantial amount of equipment and carefully drafted fraudulent documents with the intention that they should be used to fool gullible people not only in this country but wherever you chose to communicate with them.

"This is international fraud. Only a period of imprisonment is appropriate.

"In addition I'm quite satisfied that given the gravity of this offence it's detrimental to the welfare of the UK that you should remain here."

'Innocent people'

North Wales Police said that discs found on Okoeguale contained thousands of e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of companies and individuals from Scotland, the USA, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Using the documents officers traced 11 victims, including one in Scotland who lost up to 20,000, and a retired 72-year-old American businessman who lost $46,500.

Detective Constable Dave Morris, from the North Wales Police fraud squad, said: "The internet has made it much easier for individuals to operate.

"The ease with which e-mail addresses can be obtained and used for illegal purposes has increased the chances of innocent people being subjected to this offence."

He added: "We would urge the public to delete any communications, whether it be e-mail or fax, they may receive purporting to come from Nigerian Government Ministers or other organisations offering large sums of money."

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