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419ers take Aussie financial advisor for AU$1m

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A Melbourne financial manager faces a hefty prison sentence after stealing AU$1m from his clients and handing it over to Nigerian advance fee fraudsters.

Robert Andrew Street, 58, fell for a classic 419 scam after receiving an email from the Reverend Sam Kukah offering him a cool $65m in return for relocating cash held by Nigeria's Presidential Payment Debt Reconciliation Committee. Naturally, Street quickly learned that there were certain expenses he had to meet to oil the wheels of the illicit transfer. Accordingly, he set about fleecing clients of his financial planning business - Making Dollars & Sense - by getting them to invest in fictitious get-rich-quick schemes.

Street raised a total of AU$1,039,910. AU$10,000 of this went on mobile phones apparently required in Nigeria. Street transferred the balance direct to the to the scammers. When Kukah did not cough up the expected windfall, Street's clients began to complain and he eventually had his collar felt after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigated the matter.

Street was charged with five counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception between September 2001 and August 2002. He pleaded guilty yesterday in a Melbourne court on all counts and now awaits sentencing on 4 November. Each offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail. But even if Street does avoid lengthy incarceration he will not be handling other peoples' cash in a hurry - the ASIC ensured that he was barred for life from the financial services industry. ®

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