AN IPSWICH woman stole $22,000 from her workplace after she got caught up in a Nigerian internet love scam.
Lesli Elizabeth Slatyer, 44, met a man online called Dave Powell, who said he was an international business man.
Dave - who was really part of a Nigerian scamming syndicate - began grooming Slatyer and asking for money to help him pay for business and travel expenses.
In exchange, he promised to take care of her and help with her debts, vowing to give her $200,000 when he eventually came to Australia.
Between 2009 and 2011, Slatyer gave Dave more than $41,000 and was heavily in debt.
She received a $20,000 loan from her brother, who warned she was trapped in a Nigerian scam and made her promise she wouldn't transfer more money.
But Slatyer had become "addicted" to the relationship and couldn't stop, so she started taking money from her workplace of 27 years, Coles Mt Ommaney.
Slatyer, a checkout operator, pocketed some of the cash from her shift and deposited the rest as required from February 8 until March 26 last year.
Management discovered a $22,350 shortfall and questioned Slatyer, who admitted to the theft and resigned on April 5.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Kevin Carmont said the offending breached a position of trust and was protracted, deliberate and well-planned.
Slatyer has since paid the amount back in full using funds from her superannuation account, but Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin said jail time was still necessary.
"The court must be vigilant against the suggestion people can buy their way out," Mr McLaughlin said.
Slatyer pleaded guilty to stealing as a clerk or servant and was sentenced to 18 months prison. She will be released after three months and the remainder of the term will be suspended for an operation period of three years.
Defence lawyer Mark Howden said Slatyer was naive and vulnerable and had been lured by the scammers. Mr Howden said Slatyer was essentially "addicted" to Dave and still believed he would repay the money.