- Emmanuel online dating sites

At first the women were asked for a £700 legal fee by a fake solicitor but then the sums requested rose to up to £100,000, Winchester Crown Court heard.

The trial was told that vulnerable women were conned out of £220,000, with one victim, Suzanne Hardman, handing over £174,000.

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"The amount of planning was, in my view, substantial and would have required a highly organised group of individuals." She continued: "Some of those females that were targeted were utterly taken in by this cruel scam and the sophistication of the crime means it's unsurprising that some of them were taken in.

"The hurt and distress you caused them was enormous.

It's not even about the loss of the money being at the forefront of this, it's about the emotional hurt you caused them." In a victim impact statement, Ms Hardman, from Basingstoke, said that the fraud had led to her suffering sleepless nights and not eating because of the stress and that she had lost her self-respect.

Four men have been jailed for almost 14 years for their part in a "cruel" dating website scam, which targeted single women looking for love online.

The victims were duped after they responded to the false profile of an "attractive middle-aged man" on which sent messages, e-mails and texts of love and "overblown affection".

They then fell for the conman's story that he was due to receive a £100 million inheritance from his father but that it was tied up by red tape in India.

Once the relationship had developed with the fake man, normally called James Richards, the conspirators started requesting cash.

At the start of the trial, Emmanuel Oko, 30, of Waverley Grove, Southsea, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and Chukwuka Ugwu, 29, of Somers Road, Southsea, admitted money laundering.

Oko, who was said by the judge to be at the centre of the conspiracy, was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for the fraud and four years to run concurrently for the money laundering offence.

Emu, who laundered about £55,000 during nine months, was jailed for three and a half years, Ugwu was jailed for 46 weeks and Nusi was imprisoned for 18 months.

Sentencing the four men, Judge Susan Evans QC said: "This was a highly sophisticated conspiracy to defraud, it preyed on the trusting, the lonely and the emotionally vulnerable.

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