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Fraudster jailed for £400,000 payment recovery scam

He deceived the victim by claiming to be able to retrieve a lost wine investment

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Emmanuel Okunoren has been given a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence for fraud by false representation at Exeter Crown Court in the UK.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said he conned a victim out of £400,000 ($530,000, €468,000) in a payment recovery fraud.

The victim had originally lost money from a wine investment scheme which “did not come to fruition”.

Okunoren identified the victim from the wine scheme, and then gained their trust by claiming to work for a firm called TMT Investments.

The CPS said that he told the victim he would have been able to retrieve the “lost” cases of wine from where they were being stored. The fraudster then persuaded the victim that doing so would require “significant administration fees and costs”.

The victim went on to transfer a total of £399,334 to TMT Investments between May and October 2020.

The payments were made to a number of different bank accounts, and the money was “quickly dissipated” either via cash withdrawals or transactions.

No wine was ever recovered.

‘Web of lies’

The CPS said that the fraudster had an unexplained lavish lifestyle funded through cash.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has no record of “any legitimate earnings or declared income” for Okunoren, yet the police recovered from his flat high-value designer goods, thousands of pounds in cash, evidence of substantial spending at London luxury shopping centre Harrods, and a holiday to Dubai.

Julie Snell, specialist prosecutor at the CPS’ specialist fraud division, said: “Okunoren gained the trust of the victim through a web of lies and deceptions and cynically exploited the vulnerability arising from the victim’s previous losses to an earlier wine investment scheme.

“In reality the defendant did not work for TMT Investments and his claims were nothing more than an elaborate sham to extract as much money as he could from the victim.”

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