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419ers take Kent minister for £12k

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A Kent minister has been taken for £12,000 in a textbook 419 sting, the BBC reports.

The Rev Robert Nooney met a man claiming to be a Nigerian trainee pastor called David in a Christian chatroom. They duly got chatting about a "multi-faith church and soup kitchen" Nooney was planning to set up in Thanet, and David generously offered to fund the operation from a £7.5m inheritance.

The catch, however, was that David needed a bit of help with legal costs "so he could free up cash from his inheritance and buy an airline ticket so he could visit the project in Kent". At one point, David asked for extra money "for hospital bills after he said his taxi to the airport crashed".

In total, Nooney sent "£1,200 from his savings, £1,800 he raised on credit cards, and £9,000 he took out in bank loans", after which David disappeared. The phone number he supplied went dead, and he stopped responding to emails. He did send Nooney one cheque to be cashed, which turned out to be a forgery "in the name of a business based in County Londonderry".

Nooney said: "It's made me question my faith big time. I feel like I've got a massive amount of shame on my shoulders because I shouldn't have fallen for something like this. It's left me feeling really dead inside. Emotions seem to have left me because for the last five days or so I've done nothing but cry and shout in anger at things." ®

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