Four Nigerians resident in the UK were today arraigned in court alongside four others for allegedly duping out single women of £220,000 (about N59.2M).
Mirror.co.uk reports that vulnerable women looking for love online were conned out of £220,000 by a conspiracy that targeted single victims, a court has heard.
One of the victims, Suzanne Hardman (pictured below) lost more than £170,000 in the alleged scam, where the women were duped after responding to a false profile of an “attractive middle-aged man” on the website match.com.
Suzanne sobbed as she told the court how she was duped by the false profile of James Richards into handing over about £170,000 (N45.7m)
But once the relationship developed, the conspirators behind the con would start asking for money.
Prosecutor Simon Edwards told a jury at Winchester Crown Court that they created a tale that the fake man, normally called James Richards, was due to receive a £100 million inheritance from his father but this was tied up by bureaucracy in India.
After being sent messages of love and “overblown affection”, the women would be asked for a £700 legal fee by a fake solicitor and then the sums requested to help release the money increased from £10,000 to an “astonishing” £100,000.
Mr Edwards said that one woman handed over a total of £174,000 while some victims realised it was a scam and did not pay any money.
Brooke Boston, 28, of Common Lane, Titchfield, Hampshire, 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 (pictured) of Bomford Close, Hermitage, Berkshire, both deny money laundering.
The jury was told that Emmanuel Oko, 29, of Waverley Grove, Southsea, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and Chukwuka Ugwu, 28, of Somers Road, Southsea, has pleaded guilty to money laundering.
The court heard examples of the messages sent to multiple women, with one reading: “You make me feel loved, you make me feel safe, most importantly you make me feel wanted.
“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.”
Another said: “Honey, seriously I love you because I have never been loved by anyone like you loved me.
“I feel like a complete man. The thought of your hands on my body, particularly when you hold me when I am sleeping.
“I love your generous kindness to me. I love your eye and lips, your sense of self-love.
“I want to be with you now.”
Mr Edwards explained that the “entirely fictitious” inheritance would be backed up with fake documents, many of which had spelling mistakes such as “starling” instead of sterling and a passport which had the forename and Christian names in the wrong places.
He said the conspirators invented a fake solicitor called Rod Thompson of Quality Solicitors who was involved in the correspondence and the victims were even sent a forged e-business card from him.
He said that Quality Solicitors was a real firm whose name was being used without its knowing, but Thompson had been invented.
He added that the money was paid to the bank account of a man who had not been traced before being transferred to the defendants’ bank accounts and moved around to help hide it.
Mr Edwards said that much of the money was taken out of cash machines in Portsmouth where five of the defendants lived at the time.
He added: “Most of the defendants didn’t have a regular or substantial income although they appeared to have lived quite comfortably, we say, on the proceeds of the conspiracy.”
The trial continues.