back to article British woman loses £1.6 million to romance scam love rats

A love-struck British woman has been fleeced of £1.6 million by two men posing as romantic interests she met through an online dating site. The businesswoman handed over increasingly large sums of cash over 10 months last year to the men totalling US$2.4 million (A$3.3 million). Nigerian Ife Ojo, 31, and Olusegun Agbaje, 43, …

  1. Paratrooping Parrot
    Mushroom

    I know that some people will say "But she should have known that this was a scam!"

    When someone who has not had love for a long time suddenly finds someone who claims to love them, then I guess they want it to be true. They are vulnerable and are not in the right state of mind to think properly.

    Although what gets me is that she had two people who claimed to love her? They are nasty vile thugs who are preying on the vulnerable. They are in the same league as those who fleece the elderly for so called jobs needed in or around the house.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      100 quid maybe but increasing sums totaling 1.6m? Jesus.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        100 quid maybe but increasing sums totaling 1.6m?

        Adjusting for inflation, I think that's within the range often realized by long cons that target those with access to large sums.1 On the high end, perhaps, but not an outlier.

        As the article says, victims are often "unable to accept that the cash already sent and emotional investment is lost". That's the Sunk Costs Fallacy, and most people don't realize how often they get bit by it - albeit usually in less-consequential ways.

        I recommend David McRaney's blog / podcast / book You are Not so Smart for those interested in a bit of perspective on the many, many logical fallacies people are susceptible to. McRaney does a nice job of summarizing (and when appropriate critiquing) the methodologically-sound psychological studies that document and investigate these fallacies.

        1Their own or someone else's; there are many examples of people embezzling or otherwise misappropriating funds to pay for scams like this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      British businesswoman

      Brain not required, connections and graduating from the right private school are a must.

      Nuff said, nothing more to say, move along. We live in a country where Ginni Rommety would have never gotten beyond a team lead.

    3. Zog_but_not_the_first

      @Paratrooping Parrot

      Your are, of course right in that these scammers are scum and deserve to be treated as such. Also, I'm sympathetic towards vulnerable victims but I can't help wondering though what these people's friends thought. Most of us are chatty about new relationships - wouldn't friends have expressed notes of caution?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Paratrooping Parrot

        @zog

        not everyone has friends :(

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: @Paratrooping Parrot

        wouldn't friends have expressed notes of caution

        Analysis of similar cases show that people generally are warned by friends, co-workers, bank officials, etc, but ignore those warnings. See for example the link I posted above about Thomas Katona.

        Again, what we have are multiple logical fallacies that people are inherently susceptible to, interfering with both rational decision-making and the input of others.

        Besides McRaney's blog, I recommend Kathryn Schultz's classic Being Wrong, a highly readable study of, well, error. It does a good job of explaining both sources of error, and why some of them are evolutionarily advantageous on the whole.

        For example, rational evaluation is slow and resource-intensive, which is why we rarely do it, and can't do it in a real-time, on-demand fashion. Over-emphasizing the importance of statistically rare events alerts us to unusual dangers and opportunities. Recognizing patterns is an indispensable shortcut for processing sensory input, even if it leads us to find accidental patterns in noise. And so on.

    4. goldcd

      "she had two people"?

      I'm assuming she does at least get excused the "two-timing love-rat" label

    5. TheVogon

      "Nigerian Ife Ojo, 31, and Olusegun Agbaje, 43"

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN1F-DWpCo0

      Just how stupid are some people?!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Just how stupid are some people?!

        Certainly some of them are impressively ignorant about how human beings work.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The other day I signed up to a dating site, and right away I got dozens of messages. Most of them were one-liners, or seemed automated, but one stood out as genuine and interesting, so I fired off a reply.

    They quickly replied, and we immediately hit it off. We started chatting every day on Skype, and things were going well. Then one day they said, I need a bout tree-fitty.

    Well, it was about that time that I noticed my partner was about eight stories tall and was a crustacean from the protozoic era. I said, "Dammit monster! Get off Skype! I ain't giving you no tree-fitty!"

  3. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Damn.

    Do you know what's really annoying about this?

    There are people out there dumb enough to fall for this cheesy old scam who have actually managed to accumulate 1.6 million quid.

    1. druck Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Damn.

      It's no fun being an intelligent and honest person, when you see how much you could be making from the dumb suckers out there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn.

        Yeah, there's a career in this. I'm even an honest whore: I'm willing to put out.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Damn.

          for 1.6m I'd put out. The missus would probably pimp me for 1.6m too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn.

      > There are people out there dumb enough to fall for this cheesy old scam who have actually managed to accumulate 1.6 million quid.

      What part of Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles of the MET's FALCON operation team's observation that:

      "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish and they are not alone - the reality is that the fraudsters are extremely manipulative and go to great lengths to convince their victims they are in love and desperately in need of their financial assistance."

      did you not fucking understand?

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: Damn.

        "did you not fucking understand?"

        What part of 1.6 fucking million quid did YOU not understand?

        Somewhere along the line, the love runs out, the emotion runs out, but amazingly, stupid carries on regardless.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Damn.

          > What part of 1.6 fucking million quid did YOU not understand?

          What about it? It's just money, and if I lived my life worrying about money, I would be very poor indeed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn.

        I don't even give people I know and have met and snogged money, it's the fastest way to destroy a friendship or relationship there is.

        If you haven't met them in real life, it doesn't count. No exceptions, ever.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Damn.

        What part of Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles of the MET's FALCON operation team's observation ... did you not fucking understand?

        All of it.

        The people who make comments like the one you replied to, and those who upvote them and downvote ones like yours, either cannot understand mainstream human cognition (e.g. because they're far enough along on the autism spectrum that they can't adequately empathize) or are unwilling to (because they're laboring under the same set of logical fallacies as everyone else, and critical thinking would imperil their inflated sense of self-worth).

        It's easy and convenient to dismiss irrational thought in others as stupidity. Easy and convenient is good enough for lots of folks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn.

      "who have actually managed to accumulate 1.6 million quid."

      Presumably she married or inherited it.

  4. Ed@theregister

    Yeah, I do wonder what her friends were saying. Didn't one of them say 'Look, hang on a minute?' Upsetting story though, but Im guessing a lot more common than people think.

  5. Mr Dogshit

    "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish "

    ... you're not foolish for sending £1.6 million via Western Union to a couple of 419ers you've never met?

    Sounds like the very definition of foolish to me.

    1. Tannin

      Re: "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish "

      Just so. Foolish is as foolish does. It was very dumb.

      (I, of course, have never, ever done anything foolish in the name of love.)

      Well, hardly ever.

      OK, not very often.

      I mean not regularly.

      Not more than a few times.

      Well, OK, quite a lot.

      Can I go now?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish "

      A fool and their money are soon parted.

      1. Tidosho Bronze badge

        Re: "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish "

        She must be an Apple fangirl too ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please tell me...

    ...how someone (and I'm choosing the word carefully) misguided enough to fall into this trap would amass such a fortune in the first place.

    1. Tannin

      Re: Please tell me...

      Daddy.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Please tell me...

        google "Paris Hilton"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the "how dumb" comments...

    ... wait until you get to your first divorce then perhaps you will understand.

  8. Yugguy

    16 MILLION???

    Where can I get me some of this action?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 16 MILLION???

      Should have gone to Specsavers.

      It's 1.6 million.

      1. AbelSoul
        Trollface

        Re: 16 MILLION???

        1.6 million.

        Done!

      2. Yugguy

        Re: 16 MILLION???

        I was of course referring to the fact that it was 16 million in ten pence pieces.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 16 MILLION???

          "£16 million in ten pence pieces" is still £16 million.

          16 million 10 pence pieces on the other hand....

          1. Yugguy

            Re: 16 MILLION???

            Curses.

  9. Clive Galway

    "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish"

    Getting scammed of a couple of hundred quid, maybe.

    If you hand over £1.6m, then frankly you are more of a problem than the scammers. If there weren't twats like this woman around handing out such insane amounts of money, then the incentive wouldn't be as strong for people to become scammers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish"

      "If you hand over £1.6m, then frankly you are more of a problem than the scammers"

      I would agree with this, for about £500 you can get a ticket and meet the person or get them a ticket to visit you, why did this never happen?

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: "Victims of this fraud must understand that they are not foolish"

        "I would agree with this, for about £500 you can get a ticket and meet the person or get them a ticket to visit you, why did this never happen?"

        This is but one of the millions of clues presented to the "victims", that they choose to ignore.

  10. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    not just the lovelorn or the elderly

    A few years ago, someone I thought to be a good friend tried to scam me into cosigning a loan after I agreed to be a character reference. Because he was a friend and I had no reason (at that point) to distrust him, I very nearly fell for it.

    Careful and detached reasoning are valuable defenses against this. As others pointed out, taking a step back and dispassionately analyzing the information or seeking the advice of others not directly involved will help potential victims to see overlooked but obvious warning signs before they become actual victims.

    1. Vic

      Re: not just the lovelorn or the elderly

      A few years ago, someone I thought to be a good friend tried to scam me into cosigning a loan

      A few years ago, I was over at a neighbour's house when her friend turned up with a bottle of wine. The purpose of the evening was to try to convince my neighbour to go guarantor on a loan.

      I'm glad I was there. The interest rate on the loan was offensive (if you watch TV in the UK, you know which company it was and how much it costs). I had to point out that it would be cheaper for everyone for my neighbour to take out a bank loan and lend it to her friend...

      I am increasingly of the opinion that all loans should only be permitted if the recipient can estimate (to within 10% or so) the monthly repayments.

      Vic.

      1. Tidosho Bronze badge

        Re: not just the lovelorn or the elderly

        Wanka Wonga, by anychance?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1.6Mmmiiiiiiiiilion scam

    I'm willing to actually be in love for half that amount!

  12. Old Handle
    Unhappy

    I do feel sorry for victims of scams like this, but I find it very difficult to understand how anyone can be taken for that kind of money. It's one thing to trust someone, but this is more like a complete incapacity for skepticism. Maybe I'm too skeptical, I don't know. But I feel like no matter how favorably I regarded someone, I would have to ask some hard questions before handing over two million dollars (assuming I had that much in the first place). It's not necessarily about disbelieving them, I just have a natural need to investigate a situation before I involve myself with it.

    1. The entire Radio 1 playlist commitee
      Unhappy

      Its a psychological trap - people fall into it. Its real and it happens.

      Think of it in a similar way to something like - for example - depression. The depressed sufferer is stuck in a mental situation that they cannot see a way out of. Yet someone comes along and says "oh come on, cheer up, I don't know why you are so glum".

  13. David Roberts Silver badge

    Small change?

    I didn't see the words "her entire fortune" in the article.

    Perhaps the emotional high that she got was worth to her the money that she paid?

    Given that they seem to have caught the scammers, there is also no mention of what happened to the money. Was any recovered?

    There is a tradition of wealthy lonely women paying love rats (gigolos) to flatter them knowing that the money is the real attraction. However in this case it does seem a bit extreme!

    1. Tannin

      Re: Small change?

      Hit the nail on the head there. There is nothing here to indicarte how much 1.6b was to her. We are all assuming it was most of what she owned, a very large slice of what she owned, or even her entire fortune, but we have no evidence to back that. It is entirely possible that she could drop 1.6b the same way that I could drop $50 on a steak and a bottle of red, and feel it just as much.

  14. Gannettt

    Reg of Old

    Ah, I knew I'd find something of interest this lunchtime! I wonder whether El Reg has a new editor, as the stories have recently skewed more towards enterprise IT, storage etc, and these lighter stories are getting fewer. I know things change, and I'm not necessarily complaining (just because i don't find it interesting, doesn't mean it's bad) I just miss the old Reg a tiny bit, that's all. Just sayin'.

  15. Oengus

    Buyer beware

    I loaded one of the most popular apps on a tablet to see what all the fuss was about (and a friend said he was using it). I just loaded the app, didn't enter any details of any sort, didn't even open the app and within two days I was receiving notifications from the app (automatically running in the background I later found out) that I had matches close to my location (I have all location services turned off) who wamted to make contact.

    I quickly figured out it was a sham and uninstalled the app.

    How anyone can be duped into sending 1.6 million pounds staggers me (but then to me 1.6 million pounds is a lot).

  16. Medixstiff

    I remember when I first installed AdBlock Plus, how all of a sudden the number of local women in my area who wanted to me, suddenly disappeared. I was extremely heart broken, honest.

  17. x 7

    OK, I'm probably going to get voted down by the racially sensitive among you, but theres a basic logic gap in all this that I don't understand.

    How do middle-aged (presumably) intelligent white women get scammed by semi-literate black guys half their age? I'm certain if a white Brit tried the scam he'd get nowhere, but these black guys seem to manage it. I'm convinced half the problem is something in the mindset of the women who are ripped off: a desire for a bit of interracial sex with all the aura of "secrecy" and "danger" that brings.......

    These women (I suspect) are in many cases looking for an exciting life with a bit of black c***, and the prospect of secret miscegenation blinds them to the risks

  18. Rick Brasche

    wealth and wisdom are not necessarily entwined

    for to get scammed over a million, one must have well over a million to lose, after expenses.

  19. The entire Radio 1 playlist commitee
    Facepalm

    Yes its almost as if Women are from another planet

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