Nick Marinellis, the mastermind behind a 419 scam which stole more than £2m from unsuspecting internet users, has been sentenced to at least four years behind bars.
Marinellis, 40, pleaded guilty in a court in New South Wales, Australia to 10 counts of fraud and one count of perverting the course of justice.
Prosecutors told the court that Marinellis masterminded a scam involving the distribution of spam emails which conned gullible people into believing they could claim millions of dollars through lottery winnings or a bogus inheritance.
However, the victims could only claim their unexpected and unearned riches if they first sent off money for "expenses".
Marinellis worked with a team of men based in Africa; his colleagues have not yet been identified. His victims reportedly included a Saudi Arabian sheikh who was defrauded of more than £200,000.
Court documents said that an office complex in Nottingham, a AU$970,000 house in Sydney, seven other properties in the NSW area, five cars, several bank accounts and other property were all seized by police during the investigation.
Judge Barry Mahoney sentenced Marinellis to five years and three months jail with a non-parole period of four years and four months.
"Conmen like Marinellis are fleecing internet users out of millions around the world," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.
"Stiff sentences send a strong message to others considering committing similar crimes to think again."
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