A 27-year-old Nigerian man living in Cardiff, Tosin Olasemo, conned £250,000 from two women he met on a dating site by pretending to be a US soldier serving in Afghanistan, according to Walesonline.
He set up a profile on match.com using a photograph of a serving soldier, hoodwinking his victims into believing he was in the American military.
He called himself Captain Morgan Travis to his first victim, and Michael Travis to his second victim, used a profile image of an unidentified US soldier in uniform, and claimed to be based at Camp Joyce while in reality he was living in Moira Street in the Adamsdown area of Cardiff.
Cardiff Crown Court heard he found his victims, who both lived in Denmark, on the dating website before persuading them to chat on Yahoo Messenger.
In total, a quarter of a million pounds was handed over, with a further £190,000 stopped by a bank following an investigation by Danish police.
During online conversations with his first victim, 47-year-old widow Tine Jorgensen, he could see her via her webcam but said he was not allowed to show his own face because of security issues in Afghanistan – an explanation she accepted.
Olasemo demanded various sums of money from Ms Jorgensen, including for administration fees and other costs associated with his apparent desire to be able to take leave to come and see her.
He later messaged Ms Jorgensen to claim Morgan Travis had been arrested – persuading her to hand over almost £212,000 more to try and secure his release.
Talking about his requests for money, prosecutor Ruth Smith told the hearing on Wednesday: “They were designed to play on her emotional feelings for Morgan Travis, saying if the money wasn’t paid he would spend one and a half years in detention.”
However, police in Denmark soon informed her she had been a victim of crime.
The prosecutor said further that, confronted with this news by Ms Jorgensen, Olasemo then claimed to be living in Lagos – and had borrowed money from militants in Nigeria whom he could not now repay.
Ms Smith added: “Unfortunately Ms Jorgensen still felt an attachment to the defendant and believed his explanation.
“But her suspicions grew and she eventually reported him to South Wales Police, who arrested him in Adamsdown on January 28 this year.”
Officers recovered a number of false documents, including Nigerian identity cards and driving licences under various names, at the Moira Street property.
Ms Smith added: “The defendant tried to damage his laptop computer by throwing it on the floor and stamping on it, but was prevented from doing so by police officers at the premises.
“The defendant had numerous documents on (his) equipment referring to how to speak to women and gain their confidence.”
Ms Smith said there were also photographs of American army personnel and two false Department of Defense documents in the names of Morgan and Michael Travis.
The search of the computer also led police to find he had also cheated Polish divorcee Joanna Kosz-Strusiewicz, another resident of Denmark, in a similar fashion.
She was initially persuaded to part with £1,100.
“But the defendant continued to make demands for money from her and she decided to make investigations of her own,” Ms Smith explained.
“She found information which led to her believing she had been cheated and wrote to the defendant.”
Olasemo had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud, four counts of possession of false identity documents, three counts of possession of articles for use in fraud and a single count of acquiring criminal property.
In a statement read to the court by prosecutor Ruth Smith, Ms Jorgensen said: “I cut myself off more and more from my friends and leisure activities, and working life because I arrived at work tired every day.
“I lost a lot of money and the man I thought was my boyfriend. I was terribly ashamed at having been so naive.
“Sometimes I cry about the time I wasted in my life through knowing him.”
The court heard that Olasemo, who was wearing a green T-shirt and who hung his head in the dock as he was being sentenced, had a visa which was about to expire and he was due to be deported shortly.
Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees, sentencing, told Olasemo he had engaged in “continued and repeated deception”.
Sentencing him to four and a half years’ jail for one of the counts of fraud, with concurrent prison sentences for the remaining offences, she added: “As I understand it it’s probable you will be deported at some stage.”
Detective Sergeant Jamie Holcombe, from the South Wales Police Economic Crime Unit (ECU), said: “This case is an example of how an individual can sit in front of a computer and destroy another person’s life.
“Olasemo took advantage of his victims’ vulnerabilities and showed no compassion for their significant losses.”
The money he gained will now be pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
DS Holcombe added: “As always, we would encourage those using dating sites or other internet forums to be vigilant. Please do not send money or provide personal details to strangers.”