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Sophos Comments on Sydney’s Alleged Nigerian Scammer

  • 15 December, 2003 18:44

<p>15 December 2003.</p>
<p>The alleged mastermind behind a Nigerian letter email scam remains in police custody today, in Sydney. Nick Marinellis, 39, was refused bail in courts on Friday and is charged with 17 offences including conspiracy to defraud.</p>
<p>New South Wales (NSW) Police allege that Nick Marinellis masterminded one of the ‘Nigerian letter’ scams – rife through most email users’ inboxes. The scam involved the distribution of spam emails which conned people into believing they could claim millions of dollars through lottery winnings or an inheritance if they first sent off money for "expenses".</p>
<p>According to news reports, NSW Police have accused Marinellis of using the internet to steal up to AUD$5 million from people in more than 10 countries and court documents allege he deposited almost $1.5 million into a number of bank accounts. Court documents also allege that an office complex in Nottingham, in the United Kingdom, a $970,000 house in Sydney, seven other properties in country NSW, five cars, several bank accounts and other property were seized by police.</p>
<p>In a police statement, NSW State Crime Command Assets Confiscation Unit Commander Inspector Jennifer Thommeny, said, "We have identified victims who have been approached in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Cyprus, Malaysia, Japan, Norway, Greece, Indonesia, Hong Kong and England, [who] in many cases have been conned into handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars.”</p>
<p>According to Rob Forsyth, Sophos’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, this arrest highlights the risks a person takes when they enter into financial communications with unknown people across the internet.</p>
<p>"If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. With the increase of spam email, the old adage of Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware – should be written in bold across the top of every computer screen. Internet users should take the advice of the Australian Internet Industry Association that ‘When in Doubt: Don't Try – Don't Buy – Don't Reply’.</p>
<p>"Anti-spam legislation has so far done little to reduce the amount of spam email arriving in inboxes. However, this action may start to give those who use the internet to break the law a few sleepless nights,” Forsyth said.</p>
<p>Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses from the threats of both spam and viruses. More information on how to protect email servers and gateways against these threats can be found at:</p>
<p>For further information:</p>
<p>Rob Forsyth ( is available for comment:
+61 417 234 176 (mobile)
+61 2 9409 9100 (tel)
+61 2 9409 9191 (fax)</p>
<p>Sophos's press contact at Gotley Nix Evans is:
Michael Henderson (
+61 2 9957 5555 (tel)
+61 413 054 738 (mobile)
+61 2 9957 5575 (fax)</p>

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