A 38-year-old man was yesterday convicted for his involvement in a so-called Nigerian e-mail scam, the first such case prosecuted in Hong Kong. Ezeh Benson Ezeyim, who was found guilty in the District Court for attempting to obtain property by deception, was sentenced to four years in jail. He was arrested in a police undercover sting on May 14 last year after a tip-off by an informant living in Australia. Deputy District Court Judge Kevin Browne described Ezeh as 'part of an international conspiracy group'. 'It is abundantly clear to me you're a man who lives a life of deceit,' he said. In explaining his sentencing of Ezeh, a Nigerian passport holder, the judge said he treated the conviction as more serious than the 'Blessing Ritual Scam' and 'London Gold Scam', which are common in Hong Kong. He also noted the degree of sophistication of the scam, including its international dimension. In what was earlier described by the prosecution as an elaborate deception, e-mails were spammed in March last year to a large number of recipients. The e-mails touted an opportunity to inherit a US$26 million deposit left by a dead South African businessman if a fee of US$24,000 was paid. An Australian informant, Karl Dekok, was approached by a person known as Usman, claiming to be an officer of a South African Bank, via e-mail on March 27. After exchanging e-mails for a month, Mr Dekok was asked to travel to Hong Kong to contact a Dr Oscar Moshushu, the purported agent of the South African Bank, to collect the US$26 million. Mr Dekok informed Hong Kong police on April 29 last year and the force launched an undercover operation. A senior inspector and another undercover officer met Ezeh at the Empire Hotel in Wan Chai on May 14. When police handed him US$10,000 in fake banknotes as part of the US$24,000 payment, he was arrested. A police spokesman praised the sentencing. He added that with co-operation from internet service providers, police had been able to freeze e-mail accounts suspected of sending advertisements touting such money-making scams. Ezeh had earlier pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing a false diplomatic passport. He received an 18-month sentence for this conviction. Ezeh will serve both of the sentences concurrently.