A romance fraudster conned a victim out of thousands of pounds and targeted hundreds of others, including a terminally ill woman, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Osagie Aigbonohan, 40, used a number of aliases to contact women online through dating and social media sites, and in one case cheated a woman out of almost £10,000, the agency said.
Detectives said Aigbonohan operated under the name Tony Eden when he struck up a 10-month relationship with the victim last year via a dating site, before persuading her to lend him money to buy machinery for his business overseas.
The NCA said the victim made nine transfers into accounts held under fake identities, with the money eventually making its way into a personal account held by Aigbonohan that he used for everyday spending.
Data extracted from his phone showed he received money from at least eight other victims and had been in contact with more than 670 people, the agency said.
The force disclosed that one of the women targeted was terminally ill, with Aigbonohan continuing to pursue her even after she died.
Aigbonohan, originally from Lagos, Nigeria and living in Abbey Wood, London, was arrested in July. He was found carrying a false driver’s licence and had overstayed his visa issued two years before.
Records showed that he had spent victims’ money in locations across London, Manchester and Glasgow, the NCA said.
The agency also stated that when officers conducted a search of his home address, they found shoes bought with store vouchers that could be linked back to one of the victims.
The NCA said Aigbonohan appeared before Southwark crown court on Friday, where he pleaded guilty to charges relating to fraud and money laundering.
He will remain in custody until he is sentenced at the same court on 14 January.
The NCA operations manager Dominic Mugan said: “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.
“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.”