Online dating fraudster who scammed victim for 14 years is jailed
A dating scammer has been jailed for defrauding five victims out of £400,000, including one person he defrauded for 14 years.
Fredrick Diji, 37, from Camberwell, south London, used fake online dating profiles to attack his victims during a complex love scam that police described as “ultimate manipulation”.
He made his victims believe they were in a relationship with him before falsely asking for money that he never wanted to repay.
A victim was scammed for 14 years before police told him the person they were talking to wasn’t real.
Diji was jailed for eight years after admitting to conspiracy to fraud, concealing criminal property and possession of an illicit means identification document.
Co-defendant Racquel Johnson, 43, was jailed for three years and nine months after admitting to a count of money laundering.
The couple will spend Christmas behind bars after being jailed at Guildford Crown Court on Friday.
Diji almost exclusively targeted gay men for his scams, although there were a few examples of victims who believed they were talking to a woman.
Many of the victims were also elderly or in poor health.
Diji came up with strange excuses to coax his victims into handing over cash, including claims of being stuck in Dutch customs, having been “kidnapped” and needing money to secure their release.
He forged documents like death certificates and airline tickets to make the lies more credible.
Diji would say he was to inherit hundreds of thousands of pounds and just needed an emergency loan before he had the funds to pay them back.
Detectives began investigating the scam in 2020 when a Surrey victim came forward and officers were able to trace money paid to Diji.
Officials uncovered evidence of money laundering by meticulously tracing bank transfers between multiple accounts, which scammers often do to make money as difficult to track as possible.
More than £400,000 was found to have been laundered through their bank accounts.
Johnson aided Diji’s crime by laundering money he fraudulently received from victims through their own bank accounts between January 2018 and April 2021.
Judge Robert Fraser told them they carried out a “really callous conspiracy on a substantial scale” that was “devastating to so many” before they were imprisoned.
Investigating Officer Detective Constable Becky Mason said: “Love fraud is heartless and cowardly and has a devastating impact on victims, not only financially but emotionally as they find their trust has been betrayed in the most horrific ways.
He added, “It was the ultimate manipulation, taking advantage of people’s emotions and good nature.”