Dating website fraudsters jailed over £1.6m scam
Two men who conned a woman out of £1.6m by using a fictional character to contact her on a dating website have been jailed.
The woman thought she was corresponding with a man called Christian Anderson, and she gave him money to fund a supposed business project.
The fake persona was created by Ife Ojo and Olusegun Agbaje, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
Ojo was sentenced to 34 months in prison and Agbaje to 32 months.
The victim of the fraud, a woman in her 40s from west London who cannot be named, struck up a correspondence with the fictitious Mr Anderson through Match.com.
She was persuaded to pay money to his "personal assistant" in order to help him complete a project in Benin so that he could come to live with her in the UK.
She then made assorted further payments, ranging from £25,000 for a police fine to thousands of pounds to free up inheritance money left by his mother.
Prosecutor Lesley Bates said the victim had borrowed money from friends and family, believing it would be paid back when Mr Anderson came to live with her.
Ms Bates told Basildon Crown Court: "She [the victim] has since experienced stress, cries, is depressed and unable to trust people."
Police identified Agbaje, 43, from Hornchurch, and, when they raided his home, found him with Ojo, 31, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
At Ojo's home they found a laptop containing records of the victim's conversation and a "seduction kit" including the poetry book For My Soulmate and a dating manual called The Game.
John Femi-Ola, mitigating for Ojo, said his client was originally from Nigeria and had been introduced to the scam by Agbaje.
Simon Smith, mitigating for Agbaje, said his role was to provide a bank account and "the planning and sophistication of this crime was not his responsibility".
The court heard the victim met somebody pretending to be Mr Anderson in person once, describing him as "a handsome white man".
The Metropolitan Police are still working to identify others involved, including the person who posed as Mr Anderson.