US women duped on internet dating websites by Norfolk crooks
08:30 13 December 2013
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Wealthy women in the US were persuaded by confidence tricksters to transfer hundreds of thousands of pounds to UK bank accounts to pay for bogus operations on sick children and other scams, a court heard.
The four women were befriended on dating websites on the internet and then fed “sob stories” to get them to part with their cash. The gang of two Norwich men and one Sporle woman appeared for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday.
Edeowede Omozokpia, 27, from Horn Pie Road, was jailed for 24 months, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to six counts of money laundering. Marian Oderinde, 57, from Priory Close, was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of money laundering. And Akinleye Oderinde, 28, from Caddow Road, who appeared via videolink from Norwich prison, was jailed for eight months, after being found guilty at trial of one count of money laundering.
Prosecutor, David Wilson said that more than £300,000 had passed through Omozokpia’s bank account, more than £100,000 through Mrs Oderinde’s account and £15,000 through her husband’s, between 2009 and 2011.
The court heard that Mrs Oderinde had been a legal executive for 20 years and had undergone money laundering training in her job.
When Omozokpia first arrived in the UK, Mrs Oderinde was his landlady, and they formed an emotional relationship. He introduced her to Oderinde, whom she married.
In sentencing them, Judge Stephen Holt said: “Various wealthy people were befriended over the internet. You gained their trust and they were persuaded to part with their cash.
“On one occasion $234,000 was transferred from the US to their bank accounts. Sob stories were given to them about sick children, and how money was needed to treat them. Individuals in the US believed these stories, and transferred the money through various accounts. This is a despicable form of fraud, pulling on the heartstrings of vulnerable women.”
Richard Kelly, for Omozokpia, said he was an educated man. “His father is a customs officer and he’s married with a child, who is nearly three,” he said. Chris Toms, for Mrs Oderinde, said she was now financially destitute and utterly ruined. Joe Hingston, for Oderinde, said his family was of some reputation within the Nigerian community, and he had attended UEA in Norwich.