London Metropolitan Police have this week issued an official warning, after a women was conned out of £1.6m by two men operating a dating scam.
The victim, a woman in her 40s from Hillingdon, was persuaded to hand over large sums of cash after meeting a man named Christian Anderson on a dating website.
After meeting in person, Anderson told the victim he was a divorced engineer working in the oil industry, who had a daughter.
He also told her that both his father and sister had died of cancer.
Following the initial meeting, he told her that he loved her, but was also having some problems with a project in Benin, Africa.
He proceeded to ask her for a loan to pay import duty for some specialist machinery he needed to finish the job, to which she obliged and paid over £30,000.
She gave him £25,000 for a police fine and thousands more to free up some inheritance money, along with £120,000 for a fake “anti-terrorist certificate” so that the money could be deposited at a bank.
The woman had also started to look for a house so she and Anderson could move in together.
The pair responsible, Ife Ojo, 31, and 43-year-old Olusegun Agbaje were then caught by the Met’s cybercrime and fraud team.
The police said they even found a copy of Neil Strauss’s book on the art of seduction, The Game, in Ojo’s flat, and a book of poems called For You, My Soul Mate: Loving Messages To Share With A Very Special Person, by Douglas Pagels, both used to seduce the victim.
They both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at Basildon Crown Court back in September.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles, of the Met’s FALCON cyber crime and fraud task force, said: “Within the last year, Falcon has investigated the loss of £4m in relation to 100 victims who have been ruthlessly manipulated by men and women pretending they love them.
“The suspects showered them with compliments and confided their seemingly innermost secrets to them. In many cases, the suspects were talking to their victims online or over the phone for hours every day.
“Victims of this fraud must understand they are not foolish and they are not alone. These fraudsters go to great lengths to convince their victims.
“But these victims are not gullible, the fraudsters are very professional, often they are talking from carefully prepared scripts.”
Speaking about the latest in a string of high profile online dating scam convictions in the UK over the past year, George Kidd, the Chief Executive of the Online Dating Association said:
“There is no room in online dating or any other online social activity for such heartless behaviour. We welcome the work of the Met Police in bringing these scammers to justice.
“Internet fraud is a scourge that every sector has to fight. All ODA members work to keep scammers off sites using technology and know-how, and we are committed to doing even more, with better information sharing with the Police, through mobile and other ways of verifying identifies and with new advice and guidance.”
The pair will be sentenced for the crime on 8th January next year.