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Cameroonians cleared in 'surreal' dyed banknote scam

Victim of €200k hit to blame for own misfortune, says court

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Two Cameroonian cousins of the Lads from Lagos, who took a Spanish property developer for €200k in a classic "black money" ploy, have been cleared of any wrongdoing on the grounds that "not even the naïvest person would have believed" the "surreal and incredible" dyed banknotes scam.

A court in Valencia heard this week how between October and November 2006, businessman "José GG" met two men claiming to be from the Ivory Coast and looking to buy a luxury property in the city.

The pair explained they were transferring cash from their homeland to invest in Spain, but to cover their tracks, had dyed the banknotes black.

This dye, they elaborated, could be removed with a special liquid. They asked GG to finance the purchase of the miracle cleaning fluid, promising a 12 per cent return on his investment.

Suitably convinced by a small demonstration of the magic money laundering, he gave the men two genuine wads of €100,000.

They applied the liquid to the dyed banknotes, wrapped them in aluminium foil, stuck a safe on top of the packages to act as a press and left their victim to supervise the process which, after 24 hours, should have done the trick.

It didn't, and somewhat put out that he'd been left with bundles of worthless paper, GG contacted police. Shortly after, he managed to get in touch with his business partners, and arranged a further meeting. Two other men turned up, to be greeted by police bearing cuffs, while the original scammers disappeared.

In court, the two arrestees – another couple of Cameroonians living in Madrid – were cleared of any involvement in the scam for lack of evidence against them.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the two fugitives were innocent of fraud because according to the law the methods employed must be "sufficient to fool a perceptive and clever person".

In the court's judgement, the scam "would not have fooled a citizen with a normal level of knowledge", and attributed the victim's misfortune to his own negligence.

There's more on the ruling (in Spanish) right here. ®

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