Trickster couple sentenced for fraud and money laundering

A couple who tricked victims into sending hundreds of thousands of pounds in a romance fraud and laundered cash from other victims have been sentenced.

Ibrahim Moro, 33, of no fixed address, and Rebecca Patrick, 32, of Ravenscroft Road, Beckenham, targeted older and vulnerable victims on online dating sites before gaining their trust and asking for thousands of pounds.

National Crime Agency (NCA) officers found one victim, an elderly man from Australia, believed he was in a relationship with Patrick.

The couple first asked the victim for small amounts of money which they said would be used to buy Patrick warmer clothes for winter.

Patrick then told the victim she was entitled to 78kg of gold in Ghana which she had to pay for before she could move to Australia and live with him.

The victim transferred 250,000 Australian dollars – almost £138,000 – to the fraudsters.

The couple asked one victim for money, which they said would be used to buy Patrick warmer clothes for winter (Picture: NCA)

Moro and Patrick received hundreds of thousands of pounds more from several other victims, which they laundered through their bank accounts.

NCA officers linked Moro to the email account used to defraud the Australian victim and found that the addresses Moro and Patrick provided to their victims were the same addresses they gave to their banking providers.

Both defendants denied the offences, with Moro claiming the money that had gone into his account was from a clothing business he set up in Ghana. Patrick claimed she had given Moro access to her accounts to send money to his family in Ghana.

They were convicted following a five-day trial at Croydon Crown Court in November. Both were sentenced at the same court yesterday.

Moro was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and Patrick received an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Moro claimed the money that had gone into his account was from a clothing business he set up in Ghana (Picture: NCA)

The judge also ordered all money be returned to the victims.

The Australian victim died before seeing the defendants sentenced.

NCA operations manager Paul Boniface said: “These defendants exploited the vulnerability of their victims, selling them a relationship story they desperately wanted to believe.

“Romance fraud affects victims not only financially but also emotionally – many victims find it too painful to contemplate they have been scammed by someone they thought they could trust.”

A spokesman from the NCA said: “If you believe you have been a victim of romance fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud by visiting or calling 0300 123 2040.”

Pictured top:  From left, Rebecca Patrick and Ibrahim Moro (Picture: NCA)

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