Another UK-based online dating fraudster has been jailed, for helping to scam women out of £300,000 by posing as an American soldier.
The 32-year-old man, named Robinson Agbonifoayetan, was sentenced to six years in jail for the fraud, enacted against two female victims.
The engineer from Welling, Bexley, took part in the scam in which the victims were manipulated to believe that a marine named General James Krulak and General James Raul had fallen in love with them, and wanted to move to the UK and marry them.
In one of the scams, where the victim lost £260,000, a suspect posing as the general sent the woman photos, building a relationship with her, and soon after spoke of marrying her.
He then told his victim about a box he had been given by a family from Afghanistan whose lives he had saved, that contained $8.5m.
The scammer then talked his victim into paying large fees for the transportation and protection of the box into bank accounts based in Ghana.
After this, Agbonifoayetan was then used to pose as a diplomat called Christopher Williams, using a forged United Nations diplomatic card as proof.
Agbonifoayetan told both female victims that the marine needed their help transferring the box, and said if they paid the fees for its safe transfer, the two women would both be reimbursed when the box arrived in the UK.
Unlike many other dating scams, which all take place online, Agbonifoayetan and a currently unidentified suspect met the two women in London a number of times, to collect some of the “fees”.
One woman in her 60s from Ealing paid over £260,000 to the scammers over six months.
The victim used up her life savings, pawned jewellery, sold her car and took out loans to pay the spiralling costs before reporting her situation to police.
Detectives from the Met’s fraud and cyber crime unit FALCON then began investigating, and arrested Agbonifoayetan at Heathrow last December, as he tried to leave the country on a flight to Nigeria.
They also discovered another victim in her 50s from Devon, who had handed over £22,000.
The 32-year-old fraudster was sentenced yesterday at Isleworth Crown Court on two counts of fraud by false representation after admitting defrauding the women out of almost £42,000.
Agbonifoayetan got two three year sentences, which will run concurrently.
Police are still looking for other suspects in the fraud, and believe that other people are currently being scammed by the cybercriminals.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Nick Curtis, of FALCON, said: “Romance scammers manipulate people, playing on their emotions before extorting them of more and more money.
“Anyone can fall foul of a romance scam, regardless of age or gender. Victims often feel too embarrassed to tell police or a trusted person. Sometimes they want to continue believing that the suspect is who they say they are, because the reality of being scammed out of thousands of pounds is too hard to contemplate.
“But I urge anyone who thinks they may have been a victim to report it to police now. You may feel that you are betraying someone you love by doing this, but if that person really is who they say they are, they would not be asking you for the money and they would understand your concerns about such requests.”
Earlier in the year, a Match.com scammer operating in the UK was jailed for four years, after scamming two women out of almost £500,000.