Women 'duped by fake Match.com profiles'
Women duped by fake profiles on a dating website were conned into handing over nearly a quarter of a million pounds, a court has heard.
The alleged scam saw the Match.com website used to gain the trust of women before persuading them to hand over large sums, jurors were told.
Four people, from Southsea and Titchfield in Hampshire and from Hermitage in Berkshire, appeared at Winchester Crown Court.
All the defendants deny the charges.
Brooke Boston, 28, of Common Lane, Titchfield, and Eberechi Ekpo, 26, of Adair Road, Southsea, both deny charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Monty Emu, 28, of Adair Road, Southsea, and Adewunmi Nusi, 27, of Bomford Close, Hermitage, both deny money laundering.
The prosecution described the scam as a cynical ploy to exploit the emotions and the finances of women who were members of the online dating agency.
The court was told fake profiles had been created to attract women online, with names such as James Richards, who was described in his profile as being "attractive".
The messages that followed included comments such as: "Seriously honey, I love you, I feel a complete person with you. I love your eyes and your lips and you make me feel loved."
Another message said: "I knew our friendship would grow from the first day we spoke but neither one of us could imagine the love exploding, no thundering into our hearts."
Prosecutors said the men eventually started asking the women to pay money for legal fees in India to release £100m in inheritance they said they were owed.
Many of the women started handing over money ranging from £700 in one case to £174,000 in another case. A total of £220,000 was handed over by the women to the gang, the court heard.
One woman became suspicious when she received the same email twice and wrote back to the person saying "I wonder how many hearts you have broken".
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.