A Leamington widow was cheated out of thousands of pounds in a scam by someone she met through a dating website who was posing as a British doctor working overseas.
The woman was tricked into parting with more than £9,000 after being assured that ‘Dr Marcus Harry’ would be able to pay her back when he returned to the UK, a jury has heard.
Akinyemi Adigun, into whose bank account the victim paid £4,000, denied having any involvement in the fraudulent activity.
But a jury at Warwick Crown Court found Adigun (35) of Attleboro Road, Moston, Manchester, guilty of possessing criminal property by a unanimous verdict.
Prosecutor Daniel Wright explained that the ‘property’ Adigun possessed was money paid into his bank account which was the proceeds of criminal activity.
He said that by September 2015 the victim, a Leamington woman, had been living alone for three years following the death of her husband.
“She found herself getting lonely and, at the suggestion of a friend, she joined a dating site for widows.
“She was contacted by ‘Dr Marcus Harry,’ who said he was a 50-year-old male from Bristol who was working overseas in Nepal.
“They hit it off, and within a month Dr Marcus Harry starts to ask for money from her. At first these were small amounts,” said Mr Wright.
It began with a request over WhatsApp, asking her if she would mind getting him £50 of i-Tunes vouchers which he said he was unable to get hold of in Nepal.
She agreed, and bought a £50 voucher at Argos in Leamington before photographing it and sending the picture to him by e-mail.
Two weeks later Dr Harry told her he was planning to fly back to the UK on October 17, but was unable to get hold of the £1,000 he needed for the flight – so she agreed to send it to him on the basis that he would repay it on his return.
That money was transferred into the account of a woman called Jayne Chew, from Burnley, but although she had originally faced a similar charge, proceedings against her have ceased, said Mr Wight.
The victim also sent Dr Harry another £50, supposedly so he could top up his mobile phone.
“A few days later there were further requests.
"This time Dr Harry asked for £4,000 on the fifth of October because he said he had been fined for bringing gold into Dubai on his way back, and would not be released until he had paid a £25,000 fine.”
She was reluctant, but he pleaded with her and said he would pay her back, and she transferred the £4,000 to the account of a co-defendant, Dare Moyo, who has pleaded guilty.
Dr Harry then claimed he had not been able to come up with all of the rest of the money, and persuaded the woman to transfer a further £4,000 which was paid into Adigun’s account.
It initially went into his business account, but the same day £3,100 of it was transferred into his personal account and then back into the business account.
“Ultimately the £3,100 was transferred out with the payee reference ‘Bro TJ.’ The prosecutions say the remaining £900 was the defendant’s cut.
“The prosecution say that what happened was a fraud, that she was duped, so whatever money flows from that is criminal property.”
Adigun, who accepted the money had been transferred into his account, made no comment when he was arrested.
But in court he claimed it had been done at the request of a friend, a Nigerian national who had been living in the UK but had returned to Nigeria and needed the use of a UK bank account for the transfer of some money.
Adigun said he had agreed the man could use his account, and that he had no idea the money had come from a crime.
After the jury rejected his account and found him guilty, he was granted bail as the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report, and he and Moyo, 39, of Rawsthorne Avenue, Manchester, will be sentenced together at a later date.