November 22, 2011
French 'black paper money' scammers jailed
Two French nationals have been jailed by a magistrate for perpetrating a bizarre Nigerian-inspired "black paper money" scam on a Cheltenham car wash proprietor and a Broadmeadows kebab restaurateur.
Serge Ntafok arrived from Paris on May 10 with $1000 Canadian, $US500 and a 500 euro note, as well as plaster for a cast, four glue pots and a paper trimmer.
Oliviers Adong landed 12 days later and joined his fellow Cameroon-born friend at a city backpackers.
Melbourne Magistrates Court heard when they then readied to fly to Paris on July 1, a Customs check of an "abnormality" in Ntafok's groin area found $US48,000 cash in four bundles.
A similar frisk of Adong located $US51,602 in his underpants.
When magistrate Ian von Einem yesterday asked police prosecutor Senior Constable Walt Nathan to explain what "turning black paper into money" was about, he replied: "I was hoping you would not ask that question."
Commonwealth prosecutor Sian Coidan intervened to describe how people such as the defendants posed as prospective business buyers to "garner" the trust of victims on the promise of doubling their money.
Ms Coidan told the court the scam involved concealing some real money in black paper, adding chemicals and then, as she said, "abracadabra" — the paper turned into bank notes.
The (car wash) victim had handed them about $100,000 on the promise it would be doubled in the process, she said.
"They mixed it all up and he was told to leave it for some days for the chemicals to work their magic," Ms Coidan said.
It did not, of course, and Ntafok, 20, and Adong, 34, yesterday each pleaded guilty to charges of failing to report the physical movement of money under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and two deception-related offences.
The court heard they first showed the "trick" to the kebab business owner in May and later tried to scam $15,000 from him, then a month later the car wash owner handed over $100,000.
The court heard Ntafok and Adong, both "traders" who have wives and children in Paris, had agreed "with the idea of putting this scheme into practice".
Each was jailed for the 144 days they have spent on remand since their arrest on the Commonwealth charge and a further six months, with a two-month minimum, on the deception charges.
Both will be deported on release.
Article source www.theage.com.au