Internet dating fraudsters con woman out of £1.6m
Police warn service users to be aware of ‘ruthless manipulators’
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