Online dating scam trial date set…

By Drum Digital
10 March 2015

The trial of a man accused of fraud using an online dating scam will start in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Bellville, Cape Town, in May.

Prosecutor Juan Agulhas and defence attorney Howard Andrew agreed on May 13 for the trial when Muyiwa Obafeni, 35, appeared before Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg on Tuesday.

Obafeni, a Nigerian, has not been asked to plead to the nine charges of fraud and one of conspiracy to commit fraud.

He was arrested in April 2013, and made several appearances in the Cape Town District Court before his case was transferred to the Commercial Crimes Court.

Obafeni allegedly promised his victim Kuo-Sen Liu Hendrika R16 million for financially helping a man living in New Zealand, who wanted to transfer trust money to his daughter Joy Dlodlo in Durban.

Obafeni allegedly created online profiles of wealthy people and groomed vulnerable victims before asking for money for false emergencies.

The profiles included photographs and personal information to bolster the veil of credibility so Obafeni could gain the victim's trust.

According to the charge sheet, Hendrika started chatting online to a woman claiming to be Joy Dlodlo, on the website www.zoosk.com.

Dlodlo falsely informed him that her father Jacob was in New Zealand and needed to transfer money to her but that she needed help to clear the money. Dlodlo claimed to be caring for her mother in Durban.

A bogus agent named Dennis (Obafeni) contacted Hendrika on behalf of Dlodlo. A bogus home affairs official named Thuletu Mtseke falsely informed Hendrika that R21,740 was needed to ensure Dennis's safe travel to Dlodlo, with the trust money.

Hendrika paid the money, and a bogus customs official undertook to help provide an anti money-laundering certificate needed to "release" the money for Dlodlo.

For the certificate, the home affairs official asked for, and was paid, R35,690.

Hendrika was duped into paying an additional four amounts -- US1300 for stamp duty, and R697,000, R35,000 and R15,000 -- into Obafeni's personal account.

Obafeni was arrested in Maitland, Cape Town, after allegedly asking for yet another payment. After the arrest, Hendrika did not hear from Joy Dlodlo again.

Obafeni is out on R10,000 bail.

-SAPA

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