The Metropolitan Police Service is advising the public to be vigilant against so called ‘Romance scams’ to tie in with the sentencing of Hery Agunu, 24, from E7, for six years and four months and of Evelina Sisin, 39, from Edmonton for 18 months.
Victims from abroad were befriended through an online dating site and then tricked into sending money to the fraudsters to invest in the business.
Police have identified victims from America, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. One victim, a 69-year old woman from the USA, parted with £144,000 under this ‘scam’ and another has had to declare herself bankrupt due to the amount of money she lost.
Agunu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation after a bank in the US stopped a payment which they believed to be fraudulent and alerted the US
authorities. His accomplice Sisin pleaded guilty to money laundering. The US authorities handed the case over to Operation Podium who led the investigation that tracked Agunu down.
Detectives pieced together Agunu’s ‘M.O’ which used Facebook, dating websites and other social media to portray himself as a white, widowed American businessman in search of love and companionship.
He built a number of aliases for himself, using details of real people.
He spent anything from two weeks to months to groom his victims into forming a relationship with him and even falling in love.
The next step in Agunu’s scam would be to persuade the women that he was struggling financially and needed to borrow money until he got paid.
In one scam he told the victim that he had won a multi-million pound contract to deliver ‘platform and transport services’ for the Metropolitan Police Service during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
He went to lengths researching and writing a fake lucrative contract showing himself as the winner of the work.
Podium have identified 17 victims from America, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, aged from their mid 50s to late 70s.
Agunu worked with Sisin, whose bank account was used to launder some of the money.
Read the full article at: http://www.itv.com/news/london/2012-10-25/met-advises-vigilance-after-romance-scam-convictions/