SINGAPORE — After pretending to fall in love with Singaporean women online and gaining their trust, Awolola Gbolahan Ayobami and Awolola Oladeyo Opeyemi would recruit them as money mules in their transnational scam syndicate.
Two women that the Nigerian nationals recruited ended up having their children when they were in “relationships”.
On Tuesday (Dec 7), the two men were sentenced to jail terms after pleading guilty to several charges of obstructing justice and abetting others to dishonestly receive stolen property.
Ayobami, 40, was jailed four years and two months in relation to about S$150,000 of criminal proceeds. Meanwhile, Opeyemi, 37, was sentenced to five years’ jail in relation to about S$550,000.
It was the first time that love scam suspects based overseas had been arrested and sent to Singapore for prosecution.
The duo were based in Malaysia, having gone there purportedly to further their education. They did not enter Singapore and carried out Internet love scams with victims around the world.
They have been on remand since their arrest in May 2019.
The court heard that the scammers would get to know their victims using false personas on the Internet, cultivating a romantic relationship before asking for money using various false premises.
The victims, who had trusted the scammers by that point, then made bank transfers or handed over cash in line with their instructions.
Ayobami and Opeyemi worked with a scammer known only as Fola, who would cheat the victims while the two men recruited mules to assist in money laundering.
The mules would meet the scam victims to collect the cash and hand it over to the two men in Malaysia, or they would open bank accounts in Singapore to receive money from the victims, withdraw the cash and hand it to the two men.
Ayobami and Opeyemi got into relationships with Singaporean women, going on to recruit three of them as money mules.
Opeyemi had a child with one of them, while Ayobami had a child with another. The two women were also acquainted with each other.
When the third woman was called up by police for investigations, Ayobami and Opeyemi discussed over text messages about the bank accounts she had provided Opeyemi. They also complained about Fola “spoiling things”.
After this discussion, Ayobami told the money mule to lie to the police. She followed suit and claimed in a police statement that she had provided the bank accounts to “Jerry Oloyede”.
Court documents did not indicate if any of the women have been dealt with.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jordon Li cited several aggravating factors in the case, like the criminal enterprise being “fairly sophisticated” which made it difficult for the authorities to investigate. Their offences also spanned almost two years from 2017 to 2019.
Those convicted of abetting others to dishonestly receive stolen property can be jailed for up to five years and fined.