Glasgow & West Scotland

Online dating fraudsters posed as aid workers stranded in Syria

Sidney Ochuba (left) and Busayo Oladapo Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Sidney Ochuba (left) and Busayo Oladapo tricked seven victims into sending them money

Two Glasgow men who targeted women with a £35,000 online dating scam have been convicted.

Sidney Ochouba, 40, and Busayo Oladapo, 38, posed as World Health Organisation (WHO) workers in Syria who had become stranded with no money.

They tricked seven victims into sending them cash between 2014 and 2015, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard.

The pair were found guilty after a trial. Co-accused Christine Murray, 58, was acquitted of all the charges.

The court was told that Ochouba and Oladapo chatted to women on the dating site Plenty More Fish and then persuaded them to send cash to "diplomats" who were to help bring them home.

They would then ask for further payments to be sent, saying they were having problems with the journey.

However, the money ended up in bank accounts linked to the fraudsters.

The men were also convicted of acquiring criminal property as a result of a fraudulent scheme, which ran between June 2014 and February 2015.

Inheritance claim

The court heard Jackie Ballie, 60, a widow of four years, met a 53-year-old nutritionist called Jack McDud on the dating site.

Mrs Ballie, a retired saleswoman, sent several payments totalling £7,044 to diplomats who appeared to work for the WHO.

They told her McDud was due a £36,000 inheritance which would cover the cost of his flight.

Mrs Ballie became suspicious when McDud did not return and she was continually asked for money.

She said: "No-one could change what I had with my husband, but that's why I went on the site as I didn't want to lead a lonely life.

"I naively believed everything he said - there were emails and even a story and he caught me at a very vulnerable state."

Another victim, 49-year-old Melanie Kay, told jurors she had sent her son's £12,000 university fund to a man posing as a nutritionist in Syria.

She added: "It was a spiral, my savings went. I felt stupid that someone got one over me this way and I get angry that someone could do this to me."

Sentence was deferred until next month by Sheriff Paul Crozier for background reports.

Ochouba, from Glasgow's Gorbals area and Oladapo, from Govan, were remanded in custody.

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