Duo plundered £70k savings
TWO men plundered an elderly woman’s life savings after more than £70,000 was fraudulently removed from her bank account.
Victor Muhazi, 46, of Church Street, Eccles, and Fortune Ogege, 39, of Robert Hall Street, Salford, pleaded guilty to money laundering.
A court heard that the email account of the woman, who lives in Jersey, was hacked and two fraudulent requests to her bank account were sent.
The first requested a transfer of more than £52,000 to Muhazi’s account, while the second requested more than £22,000 be deposited in Ogege’s account.
The sum represented the majority of the woman’s life savings and her bank account was based in Liechtenstein, the court was told.
Police said Muhazi and Ogege had withdrawn all of the victim’s money from their accounts using ATMs and over-the-counter withdrawals ‘within days’, leaving her ‘distraught’ and in ‘emotional and financial torment’.
A Manchester Crown Court sentencing hearing was told there was ‘clearly a third party’ who hasn’t yet been brought to justice
Muhazi and Ogege weren’t aware where the money had come from, the court heard, and had been approached by a person who asked for the use of their bank accounts.
Recorder Rowena Goode, sentencing the pair, said: “You did so believing it was for honest purposes. What you each then realised was that what you were dealing with was the proceeds of criminal conduct of some sorts. You continued however to withdraw and transfer money.”
Both men, who have no previous convictions, were sentenced to 12-month community orders with unpaid work.
Ogege must complete 180 hours and Muhazi 240 hours. Police said that to date, the vast majority of the woman’s money remains outstanding. Both men are now facing hearings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Det Con Jonathan Roman, of GMP’s Fraud Investigation Team, issued a warning to the public over personal bank account security.
He said: “This woman has suffered two years of emotional and financial torment. Through no fault of her own, her email account was hacked into and consequently her details were used to transfer more than £70,000 of her life savings into the accounts of Muhazi and Ogege.
“This pair then couldn’t withdraw the money quick enough. You can only imagine how distraught the victim was to find her life savings had been stolen in this way and to this day she is still tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.”