A devious conman duped a Chester mum into getting into huge debt in a ‘shameless betrayal’ by a man she had fallen for.
It started simply with a man she met on a dating website.
Ajibola Daudu, 43, convinced Lynn Hawes to hand over £26,000 and had asked for the same amount again between October 2015 and September 2016.
It was part of a larger ‘complex, calculated and systematic’ case which saw the victim get into £100,000 of debt.
Daudu was jailed for three years and nine months at Chester Crown Court yesterday.
Judge Nicholas Woodward said: “It must have been completely obvious to you that she was vulnerable and you deliberately preyed upon her.
“It’s my view this was a deliberate and shameless betrayal.
“She has been left humiliated and ashamed and in debt to friends, family and a bank. The financial ramifications are enormous for her.”
After Ms Hawes rebuilt her confidence from the end of a long-term relationship, she was persuaded to join dating website Plenty of Fish in February 2015.
On her first day she was contacted by a man named ‘John Wilmots’ and the pair began messaging regularly. They met twice in March before their relationship become more ‘long distance’ from then on.
The victim said she fell ‘in love’ with ‘John’ as he became her ‘emotional crutch’ during a difficult time.
He convinced her he was an intelligence agent who needed her help in accessing £7m left to him by his father, but which was inaccessible in Dubai.
She travelled to the Gulf State on his behalf where she dealt with another man named ‘Phillip’ and was shown a suitcase containing a large amount of cash in June.
Ms Hawes passed on money, including £10,000 towards an anti-money laundering certificate, believing she would be repaid once the inheritance was released.
In her victim impact statement, she said: “People might listen to my story and think how can you be so stupid?
“But they have no idea how these men made me feel. My life was like a movie and it was just so realistic and convincing.
“It’s terrible being lonely and I wanted someone to be with. I realise I was being groomed and I can’t believe this has happened to me.”
Ms Hawes met Daudu, operating under the fake name Douglas Benjamin, who was introduced to her as John’s associate in October 2015.
The men used flash hotels, false documents and even fake security guards to further convince her the con was real.
As her relationship with John had become more long distance, Ms Hawes became close and developed an intimate relationship with the ‘charming’ man she knew as Doug, who claimed he had also committed money to securing the inheritance.
They met more than 20 times and in total she had given Daudu £26,000 in three separate payments after there were further complications with moving the £7m over the next 11 months.
Ms Hawes worked with the force for two months before the pair arranged a meeting at the Crowne Plaza in London and Daudu was arrested in September 2016.
The 43-year-old, who sat with his head in his hands during the hearing, at one point put his head up to shout out he ‘deserved to lose everything’.
Jide Lanlehin, defending, said: “He apologises profusely to the complainant. They did become very close and he doesn’t take that lightly.
“He wished he had the courage at an earlier stage once they had started to develop a relationship to tell her frankly what was going on.”
Daudu, of Banner Close, in Purfleet, was jailed a day after he pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud.
After the hearing, Ms Hawes said the sentence ‘made it easier to cope with’.
She said: “I will be paying off debts for a very long time after he has been released from prison. I’ve seen him in tears before and he can put on an act. I don’t know how people can be so cruel.”