Two Nigerian women, Grace Akintaro, 24, and Victoria Nwogu, have been convicted after they were found guilty by the Woolwich Crown Court in the United Kingdom of being part of an online romance fraud which defrauded seven men into paying them over £100,000.
Daily Mail reports that Akintaro of Pettacre Close, SE28, pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud by false representation while Nwogu of Piedmont Road, SE18, pleaded guilty to one count of laundering £3,490 between April 29 and May 6, 2015, and will both be sentenced at the same court on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
According to the report, officers from the Metropolitan Fraud and Linked Crime Online (FALCON), began an investigation in December 2014 following a referral from Action Fraud (AF) after four men had contacted the AF to report that were victims of a romance fraud scam.
Grace Akintaro was the mastermind of the online love scam (Daily Mail)
Three other men were later identified after they began investigations into the matter. It was gathered that the men had all been using the Match dating website and believed they had struck up a relationship with a woman called Amanda Jenson.
After months of online dating, the impostor asked the men to cover their travel costs to visit them and the men agreed to pay money directly into her bank account.
Various different excuses were then given to each man to explain why Jenson could not see them on the set date.
However, she would ask for more money and promise to meet up another time. None of the men ended up meeting Jenson despite transferring thousands of pounds to her bank account.
As well as travel costs, the men were also asked for other short-term loans to pay for rent or other costs and would be given different bank account details telling them the accounts belonged to her mother or landlord.
Akintaro even sent fake documents that were used to provide evidence that Amanda Jenson was due to receive an inheritance from a relative and would then be able to pay the money back.
One of the victims handed over a total of more than £46,000 and another paid money from his dead wife’s life assurance policy. Another man took out an equity release on his house to pay her money while one victim was told to go to a London airport to meet ‘Amanda Jenson’ who was on an inbound flight.
As he was standing outside the arrivals lounge, he was called on his mobile and told she could see him waiting but had been held up by customs officials and needed more money before she could be released.
During the hearing, Akintaro admitted she spoke to at least two of the victims on the phone pretending to be Amanda Jenson.
Victoria Nwogu has been charged with money laundering (Daily Mail)
Judge Nicholas Heathcote Williams QC said:
"Judging by what the victims say, there were detrimental effects, both psychologically and financially. They were expecting to get their money back; they thought they were loaning the money."
During investigations, the police say they found out that Akintaro had visited bank branches at least sixteen times, withdrawing £23,000 of the victims’ cash.
Most of the bank accounts involved in the fraud had an address of Pettacre Close, Woolwich, where Akintaro lived and in total, Akintaro received £104,962.88 into accounts she directly controlled.
Analysis of Akintaro's mobile phone revealed a photo of Jenson used in the fraudulent profiles sent to the victims.
Tags: Love scam, romance scam, Nigerian, Grace Akintaro, Victoria Nwogu, online romance fraud, Judge Nicholas Heathcote Williams
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