A Perth man has allegedly been duped out of $350,000 after a woman persuaded him to invest in a fake gold and diamond mine in Sierra Leone.
Major fraud squad investigators claim the 71-year old man gave the African woman more than $354,000 to establish the mine and purchase a licence and machinery.
Police say the woman, who says she fled Sierra Leone in 2006, used the money to live an opulent lifestyle in Perth.
They claim the pair met in 2006 and the woman, now 40, told the man she had inherited land in the African country which had minable reserves of diamonds and gold, The West Australian reports.
The woman said she had obtained permission to mine the resource but needed financial assistance, offering the man a share in profits.
Police claim she told him the mine would be cheap to set up as workers could dig up the resource with shovels.
She allegedly presented him with false documents to prove the mine was real and claimed to be travelling back and forth to Sierra Leone to establish the mine.
However police say much of the money the man gave her between 2007 and 2013 was withdrawn in WA.
The man notified police last year after his accountant raised concerns he may have been conned.
Detectives have searched the woman’s home but failed to find any money.
The woman will face Perth Magistrate's Court next month charged with 10 counts of fraud but police say more charges are likely.
WA police say fraud has been identified as the most expensive crime category in Australia and urge people who think they may have been targeted to make a report.