A lonely heart woman was tricked into handing over £1.6million to a gang of dating site conmen who used a copy of pick-up manual The Game and posed as a wealthy engineer to win her affections.
The woman in her 40s from Hillingdon, north west London, thought she was in an online relationship with a divorcee father-of-one called Christian Anderson.
But little did she know she was actually being tricked by a gang of fraudsters including Ife Ojo, 31, and Olusegun Agbaje, 43, who duped her into ‘loaning’ them a staggering £1.6million, telling her the money was needed to free up inheritance so they could start a new life together
Detectives believe they were part of a wider romance fraud gang – many of them based overseas – who target lone and vulnerable women on the Internet. On their arrest police found a laptop containing records of conversations between the woman and the man called Anderson and a copy of The Game, a bestselling book on the art of seduction. Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles, of the Met’s FALCON cyber crime and fraud task force, said:”This is a growing problem, in recent months we have seen an increase in reports of romance fraud.””Within the past year Falcon officers have investigated the loss of more than £4 million in relation to about 100 victims.
These victims were ruthlessly manipulated by men and women pretending to love them.”The suspects showered them with compliments and confided their seemingly innermost secrets to them. In many cases suspects were talking to victims online or over the phone for hours every day. In the latest case the woman, from Hillingdon, told police she had met a man called Christian Anderson on a dating website in February last year.
Unusually, they met in person after a couple of weeks when he told her he was an engineer working in the oil industry and was divorced. As the relationship continued he convinced the woman he loved her but said that he needed a loan of £30,000 for equipment for an engineering project in Benin, Africa.
The woman paid the cash and handed over further sums in a series of increasingly elaborate requests by the man who convinced her they would soon be living together. At one stage the victim began house hunting for them and even travelled to Amsterdam to meet an associate. The woman told detectives she often doubted the man’s authenticity but every time she asked for proof he sent convincing but false documentation.
DCI Miles said:”Victims of this fraud must understand they are not foolish and they are not alone. These fraudsters go to great lengths to convince their victim. But these victims are not gullible, the fraudsters are very professional, often they are talking from carefully prepared scripts.
“Police advise that people should never send money abroad to people they have not met or do not know well, question people’s stories and talk to friends about the relationships.