'Mine scam' costs man $350,000

An African woman conned more than $350,000 from a 71-year-old Perth man after convincing him to help her establish a gold and diamond mine in her hometown in Sierra Leone, police allege.

Instead, the woman, who claimed she fled to WA from the war-torn country in 2006 after her husband died, allegedly used the money to pay for a lavish lifestyle in Perth.

The pair met in 2007 while the woman, now 40, was working as a cleaner in a WA motel.

She allegedly told the man she had inherited land in Sierra Leone on which her brother had discovered a mineable resource of gold and diamonds.

The woman claimed she had her family's permission to dig up the precious resources but needed financial help to establish a mine and allegedly offered the man a share in the business.

She allegedly told the man that the cost of workers would be cheaper than in Australia and they could dig the ground with shovels rather than heavy machinery.

Major fraud squad investigators allege that between 2007 and last year, the man gave her more than $354,000 for costs supposedly associated with setting up the mine, including a licence, machinery and workers.

She allegedly showed him false documents to convince him of the mine's existence. The woman claimed to be travelling back and forth to West Africa to set up the mine but police claim she withdrew much of the money in WA.

The man contacted police last year after his accountant raised concerns about the alleged investment, suspecting that he had been ripped off.

The accountant allegedly warned the man that he had no evidence the mine existed.

Major fraud squad detectives searched the woman's Westminster home last week but have not yet recovered any money.

She has been charged with 10 counts of fraud but police allege more charges are likely. The woman is due to face Perth Magistrate's Court next month.

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