He claimed to be an American major general, charming lonely British women through online dating sites with stories of his bravery dodging bombs and saving lives.
But in reality the dashing war hero they fell in love with was Ghanaian fraudster Maurice Asola Fadola, who conned victims out of £800,000 to pay for his lavish mansion in his homeland.
Yesterday Fadola was unmasked as one of the world’s most prolific online dating fraudsters as he was jailed for five years in Ghana for a series of international romance scams. He targeted women across Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and the US.
The conman, thought to be in his 40s, preyed on at least 19 British victims by peddling an elaborate web of lies.
He said he needed cash to pay for a legal dispute to get his war medals, emergency medical treatment, customs charges or even to buy his way out of the army.
Using pictures of US servicemen sourced from the web, he duped other women into bogus investment schemes and lured them to Ghana where he posed as an official overseeing the money transaction, impressing his victims with his towering gold-plated and marble-clad villa in Accra.
Some of his victims were left penniless and homeless.
Dena White, of Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, lost her home after using £50,000 of her savings and re-mortgaging her property in 2009 to help the man she knew as Steve Moon in a legal dispute over the impounding of his war medals.
Fadola convinced the 57-year-old widow, who had just lost her husband of 26 years to cancer, that he could not get access to his cash because he was serving in Iraq.
The pair chatted through a dating website for hours each day. She said: ‘Of course I was wary but everything he told me seemed to check out.
‘He’d send me poetry. It sounds silly now but we were in love.’
A 52-year-old victim, a married mother of two, lost £271,000 after paying to release a suitcase supposedly containing £5.2million which her online US soldier boyfriend said he had smuggled out of Iraq.
It was Fadola’s attempts to seek a British visa which was to be his undoing. It disclosed his true identity to the National Crime Agency which was working with the Ghanaian police in connection with the case of a disabled woman who was persuaded to sell her house and send funds to Ghana.
Fadola was arrested by Ghana’s Serious Fraud Office in April 2010. The NCA flew five victims to give evidence against him in 2012 during his lengthy trial in Ghana.
Yesterday he was ordered to pay his victims back after being found guilty of over 20 offences, including deception.
source : www.dailymail.co.uk