This serial romance scammer stole money from 670 people by using fake profiles in dating apps, and social media networks

The United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) announced the conviction of an individual responsible for operating a variant of the popular variant of fraud known as the romance scam. Osagie Aigbonohan, a 41-year-old Nigerian citizen, allegedly used multiple fake social media and dating apps profiles to contact dozens of British women to trick them into sending him money.

Using primarily the alias “Tony Eden”, the defendant established a ten-month relationship with one of the victims through a dating platform, convincing her to lend him money because he allegedly had to pay rent for a set of machinery for his own business.

According to authorities, Aigbonohan made up a story in which he claimed to be bankrupt after paying for the funeral of several people who died in a work accident. The defendant would have obtained at least £20,000, almost half obtained from a single victim. In total, the woman made nine wire transfers to the defendant, who used various bank accounts with false identities to eventually divert this money to her own bank account.

By analyzing the defendant’s phone, the NCA found that Aigbonohan received money from at least eight more women, in addition to having used his fake profiles to contact nearly 700 people. Authorities even discovered that the defendant harassed a terminally ill woman for months, seeking to send him money via electronic transfer.

The defendant was arrested in mid-2021 for carrying a fake driver’s license and having entered the UK illegally, although charges of wire fraud and money laundering were eventually filed. Aigbonohan was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

Dominic Mugan, NCA’s operations manager, mentions that this is a very common variant of fraud: “Scammers work to build a relationship with potential victims and gain their trust before asking them for money. Romance fraud is a crime that affects victims emotionally and financially and, in some cases, affects their families.” Even though this can be an embarrassing scenario for victims, Mugan recommends reporting romance scams.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.