Men found guilty of dating website scam

08/09/2014

Monty Emu, 28, of Southsea and Adewunmi Nusi, 26, of Hermitage (Berkshire) were today found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of money laundering. Emmanuel Oko, 29 and Chukwuka Ugwu, 28, both of Southsea pleaded guilty before the trial to money laundering. Emmanuel Oko also pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation.

Following the convictions, Simon Edwards, Principal Crown Advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex said: "Emmanuel Oko conspired together with others to defraud vulnerable women seeking love on Match.com.

"The type of declaration of love that the defendants in this case used to target emotionally vulnerable woman on Match.com. was: I knew our friendship would grow from the first day we spoke but neither one of us could imagine the love exploding, now thundering into our hearts.

"In total the victims handed over £220,000 and one victim about £174,000 to the defendants.

"The jury at Winchester Crown Court heard how Oko and others conspired together to set up fake profiles to defraud women seeking love on a dating website.

"Like any conmen, Oko and others devised a fairly straightforward conspiracy and its success depended on the trust and co-operation on the victims in this case, who it is fair to say were financially and to an extent emotionally vulnerable.

"Oko and others exploited the womens vulnerability by sending protestations of love and affectionate messages to ensure financial reward for the conspirators and those who were laundering the money. They applied the same method to several victims and often by using the same email to a number of recipients, thus increasing their opportunities to draw in further victims.

"The fake profile was in the name of James Richards, who of course was a fictitious character; the story was that he was due to inherit £1.5m following the death of his father.  The story continued that the money was in a bank in India and James Richards needed cash to help free it up.

"The victims were sent as supporting proof copies of fake passports and details of a 'Rod Thompson' of Quality Solicitors.  Whilst this organisation does exist, there had never been an employee called Rod Thompson.  Once again, Oko and others went to great lengths to defraud the victims who gave sums ranging from £700 to £164,000.

"The payments by the victims ceased either when the demands ceased or the donors realised they were being defrauded

"After hearing the prosecution and the defence case, the jury was satisfied that the defendants were guilty of money laundering.

"We hope that with these convictions, the victims in this case who lost considerable amount of money and understandably could have lost confidence in themselves will be able to move on with their lives now that the offenders have been brought before the court.

"We will now apply to the court for confiscation of the proceeds of their offending." 

Hampshire Constabulary Detective Constable Darrin Carey said: "These verdicts should send out a clear message to people who think they can hide behind fake profiles and carry out these scams again and again, that they will be caught and dealt with by the courts."