A fifty eight year old American man has been arrested and prosecuted for drug smuggling within Australia. After a trial and subsequent deportation, Mr. Donald Clay opened up about the scam which saw him inadvertently smuggle more than a kilogram of heroin into Australia!
Essentially, Mr. Clay fell victim to an elaborate Nigerian email scam that has been in the making for many years. Over a long period of time, Mr. Clay had more than $80,000 US stolen by email scammers. After protracted negotiations with parties offering compensation for the stolen money, Mr. Clay accepted a trip to the Philippines and Australia. Little did he know his situation was about to worsen!
“He passed himself off as an official for the CBN Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria and we’d had many negotiations over I would say two years,” Mr Clay told the ABC. “They were going to give me a large sum of money: $10.5 million. They were going to walk me through, take me to the bank, help me get a bank account.” Emails uncovered by Australian authorities indicate that Mr. Clay was telling the truth, even if he should have known better.
Once in the country, Mr. Clay says the situation turned from bad to worse without him realising. “So then, when I get to the Philippines, that’s when he hit me up with this: you give them a gift, so what I’m going to do, I’m going to get shoes and you give those to the officials. I wanted to believe so bad[ly] that common sense left me. Why someone would do this to somebody who has a family and whose life has been destroyed enough, now you’re going to put me in harm’s way by making me a heroin trafficker?”
Arriving in Australia, Mr. Clay realised something foul was afoot. “I came, picked up my bags, they [Customs] pulled me out for a check and started going through my bags,” Mr Clay told the ABC. “As soon as the dogs came and sat on that bag I … my heart went right through my throat because I know what a drug dog does and man, he just sat immediately on that bag.”
After a two-month-long trial and the utter depletion of his life savings, Mr. Clay emerged from the Australian court system as a free man. “This has destroyed my life. They’re just cowards,” he said. “They get innocent people to do their dirty work for them, you know. I mean, this is a new type of crime that’s just — you know, there’s too many people out there that are trusting and, you know, want to do good by people and then they do this to them.”
It’s a worthwhile reminder that in today’s digital super-age, not everything is as it seems. So be aware!
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