An Australian email fraudster who stole more than AUS$5 million ($3.7 million) has been sentenced to four years in jail. Nick Marinellis, who worked with a team of African colleagues, was convicted of ten counts of fraud by a New South Wales court.

Marinellis operated a 419 scam that convinced email recipients they would receive vast sums of money from Africa for a relatively small payment. His victims include one Saudi Arabian who was defrauded of more than AUS$550,000 ($416,000).

The result has been welcomed by crime fighting organisations that see it as another step in the right direction. "The more people that are tried for this sort of thing the better. It lets criminals know the net is closing in," a National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) spokeswoman said.

The sentence comes just days after a brother and sister were convicted in Virginia, in what was the US's first felony conviction of internet spam distributors. Jurors recommended that Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and Jessica DeGroot, 28, be sentenced to nine years in jail and a fine of $7,500 respectively.

Industry watchers have suggested that convictions such as these are going to continue, and that increased power to tackle internet crime is taking effect.

CipherTrust's director of R&D Paul Judge warned that internet crime isn't going to disappear altogether. "What we are seeing is a movement to a more organized level. Fraud is no longer attractive to the teenager in his bedroom. We are now left with the real scum – the organized criminals," he said.

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