Student denied bail over alleged $300k scam
A Griffith University student accused of posing as a US Air Force officer to dupe a woman out of $370,000 in an online romance scam known as "catfishing" has been refused bail in the Supreme Court.
Cosmos Emeh, 32, from Durack, has been in custody since he was arrested on January 10 at the Brisbane home of his 34-year old alleged-victim and charged with fraud and attempted fraud.
She helped police arrest Emeh after a sting operation when she became suspicious three months into the online relationship with a man that she knew by the name Matthew Dobbins, the court heard.
She was asked to pay $105,000 to a man named "Mark David" to help recover Dobbins' "personal effects".
The man who called himself Mark David came to her house to collect the cash on December 11 last year, the court heard.
Two days later Mark David asked her for $170,000 which later rose to $200,000, the court heard.
Emeh allegedly had a phone with him at the time of his arrest that was used in conversations with the woman and Mark David, the court heard.
Authorities have no record of a "Mark David" entering Australia.
Supreme Court Justice David Boddice this morning refused Emeh bail because he "has a powerful reason to flee" because if convicted of the charges will face a substantial jail term.
The court heard that Emeh came to Australia three years ago on a student visa.
Justice Boddice ruled that there were no conditions that could be imposed to reduce the unacceptable risk that Emeh would fail to appear at future hearings for the "disgraceful fraud".
He said Emeh's risk of flight was "great" because he had a Nigerian passport which was alleged to be false.
Barrister Greg Maguire replied that Emeh never had a false passport, just "a photocopy" of one.
Mr Maguire said Emeh could argue before a jury that he only been brought into the scam right at the end to pick up the money from the woman on the day he was arrested without knowing about the scam, because Emeh denied picking up $105,000 cash on December 11 last year.
Justice Boddice told Mr Maguire that the jury could infer that Emeh was a part of the love scam "from the start" and he had someone else do the first pickup.
Mr Maguire said Emeh was unable to offer a surety to secure his release on bail.