In­ter­net dat­ing fraud­sters con woman out of £1.6m

Po­lice warn ser­vice users to be aware of ‘ruth­less ma­nip­u­la­tors’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

PEO­PLE who use in­ter­net dat­ing sites are be­ing warned to be on guard against fraud­sters af­ter a Hilling­don woman was duped out of a stag­ger­ing £1.6mil­lion.

The vic­tim met a man on­line call­ing him­self Chris­tian An­der­son who claimed to be a well-to-do en­gi­neer.

Af­ter build­ing up trust, the sus­pect and oth­ers pos­ing as his as­so­ciates talked the woman into ‘loan­ing’ them sums of money over 10 months.

Two of the gang, Ife Ojo, 31, and Oluse­gun Ag­baje, 43, have since ad­mit­ted con­spir­acy to de­fraud and will be sen­tenced on Jan­uary 8 at Basil­don Crown Court.

DCI Gary Miles of Fal­con, the Met’s spe­cial­ist cy­ber crime and fraud team, said: “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.

“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.

“Ro­mance scams are not the most preva­lent fraud but the fi­nan­cial and emo­tional im­pact to vic­tims is huge. 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.

“Any­one who be­lieves they have been de­frauded can talk in con­fi­dence to the po­lice or re­port it to Ac­tion Fraud.”

The Hilling­don vic­tim, in her 40s, paid more than £30,000 into the busi­ness ac­count of her sup­posed ad­mirer’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, a man al­legedly called Bran­don Platt, but 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. Fees for free­ing up the in­her­i­tance money 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.

The vic­tim had been con­vinced that they would live to­gether and had been look­ing for a home for them to buy.

Fal­con has been work­ing with the On­line Dat­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ODA) and its mem­bers to quickly iden­tify pro­files be­long­ing to fraud­sters and dis­able their ac­counts.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the ODA Ge­orge Kidd said: “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 ways of ver­i­fy­ing iden­ti­ties with new ad­vice guidance.”

Frauds can be re­ported to Ac­tion Fraud by call­ing 0300 123 2040. and and

n SCAM­MERS: Ife Ojo and Oluse­gun Ag­baje

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