Romance Fraudster Targeted 670 Women Online

A romance fraudster who targeted hundreds of women online has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering.

Osagie Aigbonohan, 40, from Lagos, Nigeria, is currently awaiting sentencing after appearing before Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

His scams are said to have tricked at least nine victims he befriended on dating sites into sending him money, including one woman who was conned out of nearly £10,000.

That victim made nine payments over the course of a 10-month online ‘relationship’ with Aigbonohan. The money was wired to fake accounts he had set up, before being forwarded to his own personal bank account, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Using the alias ‘Tony Eden,’ Aigbonohan targeted 670 women on internet dating sites, including one who was terminally ill and whom he continued to pursue even after she passed away.

After his arrest in July this year, Aigbonohan was found to be carrying a fake driver’s license and had no legal right to be staying in the UK, having overstayed a student visa from two years previously.

A search of his flat in Abbey Wood, London, apparently revealed footwear he had purchased with store cards linked to one of his victims.

The NCA urged anyone using dating sites to limit the amount of personal information they share with other users until they meet in person, in case it is part of an identity scam. The agency also warned users never to send money to people they meet on such sites, irrespective of how long they’ve been messaging for.

The NCA that users should stick to the messaging services provided by dating sites themselves, rather than taking conversations to other platforms which may offer fewer online protections.

“Romance fraud is a particularly cruel crime that impacts victims both emotionally and financially, with victims often feeling like they’re the ones to blame. Aigbonohan showed total disregard for the victims in this case and was happy to commit further fraud by moving money between various fraudulently held accounts,” said NCA operations manager, Dominic Mugan.

“It’s possible that he contacted more people than we know about. If you think you may have been a victim, or may be a victim in a similar case, we would urge you to report the details to Action Fraud.”

Romance fraud was the second highest grossing cybercrime category last year, leading to total losses of over $600m, according to the FBI.

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