Man gives life savings to Nigerian scam artists who promised him the love of his life

A lonely bachelor gave away a fortune to Nigerian scam artists who promised to send him the love of his life, a court heard.

But when Stephen Wallace’s bank put a stay on his account after noticing the transactions, he marched in with a kitchen knife, a hammer and a baton.

Wallace, from Market Street in Clifden, Galway, pleaded guilty to producing a weapon in a manner likely to intimidate another person or inflict serious injury at the Bank of Ireland in Clifden on December 20 last.

He also pleaded guilty to obstruction and engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour at Clifden Garda Station on January 19.

Garda Alan Murphy told Clifden District Court he was called to the bank where he found Wallace, 42, in a very agitated state.

He was brandishing a large kitchen knife, a small hammer and a wooden baton and was arrested and taken to a psychiatric unit.

When he was released from hospital a month later, he called into Clifden Garda Station and was again very agitated and abusive, Garda Murphy recalled.

    “He started lashing out, he was kicking and punching. He had to be arrested for his own safety,” Garda Murphy stated.

After reading his file from the psychiatric unit, Judge Mary Fahy asked if the GardaĆ­ had investigated the large amount of money that had left his bank account.

Garda Murphy said Wallace had been willingly sending the money – but the court was not told how much he had handed over.

Defence solicitor, JJ Mannion, said his client had an IQ of 65, whereas the average in Ireland is 100. “He’s believed to be on the autistic spectrum,” he told the court.

When the Bank of Ireland became aware through family that Wallace was the victim of a scam, they put a stay on his account which was the reason for his frustration at the branch.

Judge Fahy said the case was “so sad and just unbelievable” and it was something that could continue for the rest of the defendant’s life.

    “You’re looking at a huge amount of money [that] he handed over to somebody in Nigeria.”

Garda Murphy said the defendant “truly believed somebody would come over” after he had sent the money but it was nothing but a scam.

Judge Fahy spoke directly to Wallace:

    “I’m telling you now that person is not going to come and you’re going to stop putting money into that account. Would you agree to do that?”

    “I will yes,” he replied.

Judge Fahy urged him to only pay his bills and stop putting money into anybody else’s accounts.

She reiterated that if he did what she was asking, the court would be able to help him. She adjourned the case until September 28.

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