Two Nigerian Scammers posed as a wealthy engineer to win the affections of a lonely heart woman who they tricked into handing over £1.6million that is about N480m, Maail One reports.
The woman in her 40s from Hillingdon, north west London, thought she was in an online relationship with a divorcee father-of-one called Christian Anderson.
But little did she know she was actually being tricked by a gang of fraudsters including Ife Ojo, 31, and Olusegun Agbaje, 43, who duped her into ‘loaning’ them a staggering £1.6million, telling her the money was needed to free up inheritance so they could start a new life together.
She had even met with someone pretending to be Anderson’s lawyer and travelled to Amsterdam to discuss money that was supposedly being held in a vault, as well as searching for houses where she could live with Anderson once the money came through.
Ojo and Agbaje were arrested at Agbaje’s home in Hornchurch, Essex. When police searched Nigerian student Ojo’s home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, they found a copy of Neil Strauss’s bestselling dating manual The Game with them, which reveals the the skills and techniques used by ‘pick up gurus’ to seduce women. They also used a book of love poems called For You, My Soul Mate: Loving Messages To Share With A Very Special Person, by Douglas Pagels to help them seduce the unsuspecting woman.
NHS administrative assistant Agbaje and Ojo had been due to be sentenced today, after they admitted conspiracy to defraud following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s specialist cyber crime and fraud detectives – FALCON.
However, the case at Basildon Crown Court was adjourned until January 8 by Judge Jonathan Black. Agbaje and Ojo were remanded in custody.
‘Within the last year, FALCON has investigated the loss of £4million in relation to 100 victims who have been ruthlessly manipulated by men and women pretending they love them, said Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles of FALCON.
‘The suspects showered them with compliments and confided their seemingly innermost secrets to them. In many cases, the suspects were talking to their victims online or over the phone for hours every day.’
In this case, the woman had met ‘Anderson’ on a dating website in February 2014.
After a few weeks of chatting online she met a man pretending to be Anderson in person. He told her that he was an engineer working in the oil industry, that he was divorced and had a daughter, and that his father and sister died of cancer.
A few weeks later he told her that he loved her, and that he was having a difficult time working on a project in Benin, Africa.
He said that he wanted come home to be with her but first he needed some specialist machinery so he could finish the project.
He asked her for a loan to pay import duty for the machinery, and she dutifully paid more than £30,000 into the business account of his supposed personal assistant, a man allegedly called Brandon Platt.
However, Anderson then requested more cash, ranging from £25,000 for a police fine to thousands of pounds to free up inheritance money left by his mother, who lived in Cape Town.
He told her that he wanted to use the inheritance money to set up a life with the victim, but that there were fees for freeing up the inheritance money, which included costs for holding it in a vault in Amsterdam and $170,000 to pay for a non-existent ‘anti-terrorist certificate’ so that the money could be deposited at a bank.
By this time, the victim had been convinced that they would live together, and had even been looking for a home for them to buy.
She met with someone claiming to be Anderson’s lawyer, and even travelled to an office in Amsterdam to meet a man calling himself Dr Spencer, who was supposedly responsible for holding the money in a vault.
Between March and December 2014, the victim paid £1.6million into numerous bank accounts, with the money then transferred into various personal accounts, including £35,000 to the bank accounts of Ojo and Agbaje.
The victim doubted the authenticity of Anderson’s stories on numerous occasions but every time she asked for proof he sent false documentation or made up excuses for why he could not send her evidence.
In January of this year, the woman reported the crime to FALCON, which carried out a financial investigation.
They identified Agbaje as one of the recipients of the victim’s money and went his home address where they found him with Ojo.
Both men were arrested and their homes searched. At Ojo’s home, they found a laptop containing records of the victim’s conversation with Anderson, a memento book seemingly sent to Anderson by another victim and a copy of the book The Game.
FALCON established that between them the paid had received £35,000 of the victim’s cash.
Detectives are continuing to seek out other members of the gang and try to identify any other victims.
‘Romance scams are not the most prevalent fraud but the financial and emotional impact to victims is huge,’ said DCI Miles.
‘Many victims borrow money from friends and family to pay the suspects. Victims typically feel embarrassed and ashamed when they realise they have been duped, so they often don’t report what has happened to them or even confide in a friend.
‘Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish and they are not alone – the reality is that the fraudsters are extremely manipulative and go to great lengths to convince their victims they are in love and desperately in need of their financial assistance. Anyone who believes they have been defrauded can talk in confidence to the police or report it to Action Fraud.’
George Kidd, Chief Executive of the Online Dating Association (ODA), said: ‘This heartless behaviour defrauds people but can also rob them of their confidence and dignity. Internet fraud is a scourge that every sector has to fight.
‘We want people to have fun and make friendships in safety. All ODA members work to keep scammers off sites, using technology and know-how. We commit to do still more with better information-sharing with the police, through mobile and other ways of verifying identities and with new advice and guidance.’
FALCON has been working with the Online Dating Association and its members to quickly identify profiles belonging to fraudsters and disable their accounts.
But DCI Miles said romance fraud isn’t only carried out on dating sites.
‘Any stranger who approaches you on a chat site, via email or any other way could potentially be a fraudster,’ he said. ‘In a recent case, a woman was defrauded of £250,000 after a suspect relentlessly tried striking up a conversation on Skype. She eventually answered and the scam progressed from there.’