A romance fraudster who targeted vulnerable older victims including a woman with terminal cancer has been jailed for more than two years.
Osagie Aigbonohan, 40, originally from Lagos, Nigeria, posed as Tony Eden on dating websites, using a picture of a grey-haired, middle-aged white man to dupe his targets.
The conman claimed he worked for a mining company and said he needed money to hire equipment after paying for his workers' funerals following a tragic accident.
Aigbonohan contacted more than 670 people on sites including Tinder, Bumble, Christian Connection and Plenty of Fish, scamming nine of them between June 2019 and July last year.
One of his victims told him she had been diagnosed with cancer but he continued to ask for money and even sent messages after she died.
Aigbonohan was jailed for two years and four months at Southwark Crown Court on Friday after he previously admitted fraud, possession of an iPhone for use in fraud, money laundering and possession of a false driving licence.
‘A nasty offence’
Recorder Edward Jenkins said: “This offence by you can only be described as a nasty offence.
“You participated in a nasty offence whereby you participated in what is colloquially known as a romance fraud.
“But what you in fact did was participate in a scam on vulnerable older women in difficult circumstances emotionally, some in difficult circumstances financially.”
The court heard Aigbonohan duped almost £10,000 from a widow and more than £4,000 from a woman who was terminally ill.
“You continued to harass her after she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer for a period of months, which frankly beggars belief.”
Aigbonohan, who has overstayed his visa, could be deported from the UK after he serves his sentence.
Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor James Lewis said: “Aigbonohan demonstrated a cynical disregard for his victims, grooming them with romantic promises before dishonestly persuading them to provide him with financial assistance.”
National Crime Agency operations director Dominic Mugan added: “Aigbonohan had no regard for these women.
“He went to great lengths to gain their trust, fabricating stories to exploit them out of thousands.
“This is a typical pattern of romance fraudsters; they work to build rapport before making such requests.
“Romance fraud is a crime that affects victims emotionally and financially, and in some cases impacts their families.
“We want to encourage all those who think they've been a victim of romance fraud to not feel embarrassed or ashamed but rather report it.”