No jail for nerd snared by Nigerian scammers

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By Paul Thornton

A HONEYTRAP sap who helped an internet ‘girlfriend’ swindle £25,000 from another man has dodged a jail sentence.

Computer geek Brian Mackay, 40, handed over between four and five thousand pounds of his own money to a ‘woman’ he met in an online chat room.

Mackay fell for the sting after being dumped by his girlfriend and claims he was depressed at the time.

The online fraudster – who Mackay never met in the flesh – took advantage of this to develop a relationship with the love-struck man and told him that they needed the money to pay for medical bills for a family member.

But after his own cash ran out, he helped her to process and transfer another £25,635 that the con artist swindled out of another man who thought he was giving to charity.

Yesterday (Friday) Mackay was ordered to work 260 hours of community service after he earlier admitted an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

A charge of fraud against the IT technician was dropped by prosecutors, however the internet con artist remains at large.

Sheriff Deidre MacNeill described the case as a “classic honeytrap” and spared Mackay from a custodial sentence.

She said: “It seems like a classic honeytrap.

“The circumstances seem to be that you befriended this Nigerian woman on the internet.

“Your personal circumstances meant that you were vulnerable to this and it was she that led you to do what you did.

“A custodial sentence would be the first consideration however there are mitigating circumstance here.

“As an alternative I am going to make a community service order.”

The court had heard how in 2008 Mackay struck-up a relationship on-line with a person claiming to be a woman from Nigeria.

When Mackay’s own cash ran out, he set up a Cash Converters account in Edinburgh to continue feeding money to the fraudster – who was conning other people and needed some way of getting the ill-gotten cash to her.

Between May 1 and July 31 2008 Mackay recieved £25,635 through the Western Union Money Transfer system which he passed on to the con artist through the Cash Converters account.

After he was caught helping the fraudster, he told cops: “It was stupid. I knew it was wrong.”

Mackay’s solicitor, Cameron Tait, said that Mackay was depressed after being dumped and was spending a lot of time in chat rooms when he fell prey to the swindle.

Mr Tait said: “He had been suffering from depression and a relationship of his own had fallen apart.

“He was going through a difficult period and made contact with this person through a chat room.

“During the period Mr Mackay had been persuaded by those involved to part with his own money for family crisis and what have you.

“He had given her between four thousand and five thousand of his own money.

“She made contact with him after a period of time by email and persuaded him that there was a relationship between the two.

“He was persuaded to go to Cash Converters and make certain financial transfers.”

Mackay, of Easter Road, Edinburgh, has one year to complete the unpaid work.

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