Serial romance fraudster jailed after scamming women out of nearly £20,000
A romance fraudster who defrauded several women of thousands of pounds and targeted hundreds more has been jailed for 28 months, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Osagie Aigbonohan, 41, from Lagos, Nigeria, used a number of aliases to contact several women online through dating and social media sites. Of those identified, investigators believe he defrauded them out of a total of £20,000 and in one case cheated a woman out of almost £10,000.
Going by the name ‘Tony Eden’, Aigbonohan struck up a ten-month relationship with a victim last year via a dating site and persuaded her to lend him money to hire drilling equipment for his business abroad.
He made up a story claiming to be broke after paying for the funerals of a number of people who died in machinery accidents.
The victim made nine transfers, totaling £9,500, to various accounts held under false identities, with the money eventually ending up in a personal account held by Aigbonohan.
Aigbonohan’s phone data showed he also received money from at least eight other victims and had contact with more than 670 people in total.
One of the women targeted was terminally ill, with Aigbonohan continuing to pursue her even after her death.
NCA officers arrested Aigbonohan in July 2021. He was then carrying a fake driving license and was illegally in the UK, having overstayed his visa from two years ago.
Records showed that despite living in Abbey Wood, London, he had spent the victims’ money at locations in London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Today [14 January] at Southwark Crown Court he was sentenced to 28 months after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering.
Dominic Mugan, Head of NCA Operations, Complex Finance Team, said: “Aigbonohan had no respect for these women. He went to great lengths to gain their trust, fabricating stories to exploit them by the thousands.
“It’s a typical pattern of romance fraudsters; they strive to establish relationships before making such demands. Romance fraud is a crime that affects victims emotionally and financially and, in some cases, affects their families.
“We want to encourage anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of romance fraud not to feel embarrassed or ashamed, but rather to report it.”
James Lewis of the CPS said: ‘Romance fraud is a particularly insensitive offence, involving the exploitation of an individual’s emotional needs and caring qualities, to extract money from them. People should be especially vigilant in the coming month as we head into Valentine’s Day and more and more people are looking for a partner.
“Aigbonohan showed a callous disregard for his victims, grooming them with romantic promises before dishonestly persuading them to provide him with financial aid.
“Through the extensive and thorough investigative work of the National Crime Agency and the support of individual victims, the CPS has brought Aigbonohan to a halt in fraudulent activities. Hopefully, this case will serve to deter other romance scammers who prey on victims in the same way.
The NCA advises anyone using dating sites to avoid disclosing too many personal details when talking online to someone you have never met in person, as this can lead to your identity being stolen. . You should stay on the site’s messaging service until you meet in person; don’t be tempted to switch to other platforms that offer less protection. And most importantly, no matter how long you’ve been talking to someone online and how much you trust them, if you haven’t met them in person, don’t send them money.
If you think you have been the victim of fraud, you should report it to ActionFraud.police.uk and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which offers simple, unbiased advice to help people spot scams and to protect against fraud.
January 15, 2022