Two men have been found guilty of money laundering over an elaborate dating website scam which spun “a web of lies” to snare single women looking for love online.
The victims were duped after they responded to a false profile of an “attractive middle-aged man” on the match.com website.
They fell for the conman’s story that he was due to receive a £100m 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 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. Some realised it was a scam and did not pay any cash.
After the case, Detective Constable Darrin Carey, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: “This case centres around a web of lies constructed by a devious group of people with the sole intention of exploiting emotionally vulnerable women for financial gain.
“All members of this group played their part in these offences, which left nine women feeling used and embarrassed and has seen them lose significant amounts of money.
“The women were duped into thinking that they were talking to a man who was genuinely looking for love on the dating website match.com. Unfortunately for them, they were part of an elaborate scam.
“These verdicts should send out a clear message to people who think they can hide behind fake profiles and carry out these scams again and again, that they will be caught and dealt with by the courts.”
Following the three-week trial, Monty Emu, 28, of Frencham Road, Southsea, Hampshire, and Adewunmi Nusi, 27, of Bomford Close, Hermitage, Berkshire, were convicted of money laundering.
Brooke Boston, 28, of Chelsea Road, Southsea, was cleared of charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.