MORE than once police from the fraud squad and officials from Nigeria told Suzanne and Malcolm Maiden they were being scammed.
But nothing, it seemed, could convince them to stop sending huge amounts of cash to a fake Nigerian oil company.
When they eventually ran out of money, the Sunshine Coast couple then scammed their friends into bogus overseas investments.
With no money and forced to live in a caravan at Woombye, the Maidens defrauded their friends of more than $300,000.
At one point they convinced their friends there were “two huge boxes of money in a secure building at the Reserve Bank of South Africa ... which were valued at $US22 million”.
They said the money had to have stamped codes chemically removed and that “the cost of this was enormous”.
The lies kept coming and from September 2007 to April 2008 the Maidens had defrauded one couple of more than $259,000.
Malcolm James Maiden pleaded guilty yesterday in Maroochydore District Court to five counts of fraud. His wife Suzanne pleaded guilty last year to being an assistant in the fraud.
The court was told a Queensland detective had warned the Maidens several times in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In May 2007, the detective even visited the Maidens with a Nigerian official who told the couple they were being scammed and warned them not to send any more money.
Judge John Robertson said he was convinced Mr Maiden believed the Nigerian investments were legitimate.
Mr Maiden, 50, was jailed for four years, suspended after 12 months. Mrs Maiden was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an immediate release in July last year.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.