Former bank teller Lonwabo Mqonci was jailed for six months for assisting two Nigerian men in an Internet scam that involved a bogus London solicitor.
Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court magistrate Amrith Chabillal said Mqonci’s role amounted to a “crime of greed, in which he had grabbed what was not due to him”. He jailed Mqonci for 3 years under legislation allowing his release into corrective supervision – involving house arrest – after serving 6 months.
The court earlier heard that the victim, Izak Lintvelt, received an e-mail two years ago, supposedly from a London solicitor who introduced himself as Barrister Tom Hickman. According to the e-mail, Lintvelt was the only living relative of Randolf Lintvelt, who died in October 1989, and whose estate executor was Hickman. It informed Lintvelt that as the sole beneficiary, he could claim from the estate, which was worth US13,8 million. However, in order to claim against the estate, he first had to pay R789,300 into the solicitor’s bank account for legal and consultation fees, documentation and revenue charges, which he did.
The 2 Nigerian men, named “Lucky” and “Pasta”, persuaded Mqonci to allow them to deposit this money into his bank account. Mqonci was to withdraw the money for them, and keep R180,000 for himself. Chabillal said only the prosecutor could explain why Mqonci was not charged with fraud, in addition to aiding and abetting. Mqonci’s role had been pivotal, as without it the scam could not have succeeded, the magistrate said. He said Lintvelt was defrauded out of an astronomical amount, and that the amount Mqonci received was “huge for a bank teller earning a salary”.
This article was published on the Independent Online website on the 26th of January 2010.