online dating scams: 2015 catfish roundup

No list could be comprehensive, so here is a list of the more colorful online dating scammers from 2015 who took it to the next level.  From fraud, armed robbery and assault, to full blown Internet Romance Scam, the chutzpah demonstrated by this year’s awardees is breathtaking.  Our Scammer of the year (at the end) grossed $2,388,000.00  before getting caught.

Outstanding Citizen Award

Enrico Cagnotti

Enrico Cagnotti was on parole when met a woman online.  He proceeded to play Light Finger Louie with some of her artwork and jewelry.  He was arrested in Canada and charged with theft over $5,000 and failing to comply with probation.   Other regional police departments have also issued warrants for Cagnotti’s arrest on charges of breach of probation, fraud, uttering threats and forcible confinement.  Cagnotti has a lengthy criminal record with more than two dozen convictions for fraud, theft and forgery, and was prohibited from using online dating sites as terms of his probation.  Talk about a nasty neighbor.  At least he won’t be using his leaf blower at 7:00 A.M.


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Best New Artist

And the winner is…  from Louisiana… The New Kids on the Cell Block! (Big applause follows.) Left to Right, Jasmine DuPont 17, Taylor Williams 20, Gregory Holloway, and Aaron Kenny.   This quartet set up fake profiles in the online dating site PlentyofFish.  Next, they would arrange a date and when the men arrived, they would rob them at gun point, and give them a couple of whacks for good measure.  Their 2015 hits include armed robbery with a firearm and online impersonation.  They also had a popular B side – possession of marijuana. The charges have been dropped against DuPont.  We might get to hear her sing again in district court.  Gold records in the future are unlikely, but the  New Kids have no doubt earned a spot in Louisiana’s State Penitentiary.  I bet Williams will lose that smirk when when he meets his new band in Angola.

Brass Balls Award

sigmoid2

Sigismond Segbefia’s act was posing as widowed businessman and an Army sergeant in Afghanistan.  He met his leading ladies in online dating sites such as Match, and ChristianMingle. He conned them into wiring him more than $980,000.  His other role was a concert promoter, where he conned a South Korean steel company out of $375,000 by claiming he could help the company book a Pharrell Williams concert.  Segbefia pled guilty to wire fraud and identity theft.  He will serve two years in federal prison and then be deported to his home country of Ghana.  It takes some stones to go after a Korean steel company.  Mr. Sigmoidoscope does have another role lined up, he will star as bunk muffin in a federal penitentiary.

Employer of the Year

Miura Tetsuo set up Sakura SitesJapanese authorities arrested Miura Tetsuo for setting up Sakura sites.   A “sakura” site is a scam that employs workers to chat with members to entice them into paying for services or memberships.  The scam sites had 2.7 million members, all but one of them were men.  The sites employed male workers to chat with paying members.  It is estimated that members of the sakura sites paid $52 million in fees since the start of the sites in 2004.  One customer spent around 13 million yen ($100,000).  That’s a lot of chat.  I wonder what kind of bonus  Tetsuo-san gave to his employee of the year?

Jethro Bodine Award

Jed Clampett and Jethro BodineZhang Qiang met his bride, a female Chinese Air Force Officer, in an online dating site.   He met her in person three months later, after which his bride-to-be named Fang  lied to him and said she was pregnant, and “forced” him to marry her.  (Only Fang’s surname has been published.)  During the engagement, Zhang dutifully sent his fiancé money whenever she requested.  On the wedding day, Zhang traveled to his bride’s hometown.  Wedded bliss was short – Zhang had to return to his own hometown right after the ceremony for work.   There was a problem though, the bride Fang,  is actually a man.  When Zhang’s family eventually discovered the truth, Fang was arrested.  Fang explained that he never actually had sex with Zhang, but Zhang didn’t question the pregnancy.   OK.  So I am 99% sure that the Chinese people know where babies come from, so in this case the award goes to the victim Zhang.  Maybe Mr. Zhang Sr. could get Jed Clampett to have a loooong talk with that boy.

Lehman Brothers Award

Chris Gatling shrugs shouldersNBA All-Star Chris Gatling met a Scottsdale fitness studio owner on an online dating website.  Then, he conned her in to running fraudulent credit card transactions thru her business.  Gatling was running a credit repair scheme, and needed a legitimate merchant to run the cards for him. When Gatling’s scams were discovered, all of the charges were reversed, the woman lost $90,000, and was forced to close her business.   Gatling is charged with fraud, aggravated identity theft, and forgery.  Gatling had previously pled guilty to squatting a home in Arizona.   Consider that Gatling earned more than $29 million in his NBA career, plus endorsements.  While he certainly enhanced his Wall Street Creds…  Chris!   Doode!  You could  have saved a couple of bucks!

Used Car Salesman of the Year

Matthew SamuelsMatthew Samuels’ day job was a car salesman.  Samuels fleeced five women out of about £200,000 (about $300,000)  to buy cars and fund a flamboyant lifestyle.   One of his conquests was an experienced police officer.  Reports also say that he has either 10 or 11 kids.  He has been sentenced to 8 years in prison.  Well at least he won’t be able to get anybody pregnant in a British prison.  Maybe if he was in China.

Honorable Mentions 

Ben Raven from NigeriaIn Bangkok Thailand Police have arrested  Nigerian Ben Raven for an online dating scam, in which several Thai women were conned out of millions of Baht.  One million Baht is worth about $27,000 U.S.  I hear the Thai Prisons are very nice this time of year.

Carnelle Dewayne RuteledgeCarnelle Dewayne Ruteledge met a woman on the PlentyofFish site.  He pretended to be a sports agent and stole about $127,000.  Keep that mean look dude.  You will need it in the Indiana State Prison system.

Scammer of the Year – Runner up

Nigerian Flag with CatfishSally Iriri combined Internet dating fraud with the Nigerian inheritance fraud schemes to con her victims.  Her total known take was about $2.3 million, scamming Americans and Canadians.  Iriri was in the U.S. legally, and has a Nigerian passport.  Sally will be staying in the US for another 10 years in the Federal Penitentiary.   A co-defendant, Michael Adegoke, 33, was arrested in Atlanta and remains in custody.  Alas we could not find a picture of said fair maiden Sally, so we are raising the Nigerian National Flag in her honor.


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Online Dating Scammer of the Year

Ife Ojo, and Olusegun AgbajeJust edging out Sally Iriri at  $2.388m (1.6m British Pounds),  is the Nigerian duo of Ife Ojo, and Olusegun Agbaje (say that 3 times fast).  The pair were arrested by the London Metropolitan Police, and successfully prosecuted for fraud.    This Nigerian scam duo used the “struggling business deal” and “tied up inheritance” scams to con a 40 year old business woman out of all that Sterling.  The woman met “Christian Anderson” in an online dating site. Anderson pretended to be an engineer in the oil industry, and a widowed father of one, working a project in Africa.  The woman even traveled to Amsterdam to look for a home for when they would live together.  The two men will be sentenced in January.

***

Well that’s it for this year, but hey there are still a few days left, so who knows what will come out from under the rocks in the meantime!

Tell me did I miss any?  In order to Qualify, the scammer needs to have been positively identified, arrested, or convicted in 2015.   Let me know.

Thanks and Be Safe.

Ronin Eternales


Sources

www.insidehalton.com – Man arrested after Oakville woman falls victim to alleged online dating scam

Houma Today.com – Four charged in online-induced armed robberies

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Nigerian woman charged Wisconsin wire fraud scheme

U.S. Department of Justice

Gbtimes.com – Male swindler tricks man in to marriage faking pregnancy

www.msn.com – Ex-NBA player Gatling arrested in online scam

Rocketnews24.com – Executives arrested from scam dating sites that had 2.7 million users and only one female member

Dailymail.co.uk – Car salesman conned women he met on dating websites jailed for eight years

BBC.com – Police warning after woman loses 16m in dating scam


Image Credits

Big Sig courtesy of AmeyawDebrah.Com

Catfish drawing courtesy of Phillip Martin.

Ojo and Agbaje courtesy London Metropolitan Police

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