’Hunk’ jailed for swindling more than R1m from three women
Cape Town – Pretending to be a hunk to dupe three unsuspecting women has resulted in convicted fraudster Chinonso Pascal Eze effectively getting six years’ imprisonment.
The National Prosecuting Authority said Eze swindled the women of more than R1 million which they deposited into different bank accounts.
His first victim deposited R314 950 between November 2017 and January 2018; his second sent him R186 080 into different bank accounts held by four different people; and his third and most affected deposited R534 000 in different bank accounts also held by different people. In total, they deposited R1 035 030.
Eze was charged and found guilty on 23 counts of fraud and nine counts of money laundering at the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court.
He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for the 23 counts of fraud, of which four were suspended for five years on condition that he is not found guilty of fraud.
He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for money laundering of which five were suspended for five years on condition he was also not found guilty of money laundering.
The court then ordered that both sentences run concurrently, effectively sentencing Eze to six years’ imprisonment. He was declared unfit to possess a firearm.
Eze had confessed he was part of a syndicate that operated an online dating scheme.
This was contained in a plea and sentencing agreement with the state on Thursday.
The 36-year-old father of two told the court the ultimate goal was to fraudulently secure large amounts of money from their unsuspecting victims.
He and members of the syndicate started reaching out to the victims through dating sites. He groomed the women, building their trust and thereafter requested money from them for alleged emergencies, said the NPA.
“The syndicate then created fake personalities of Marcos Ivan, Michael Brandy Smart and Craig Thompson. This deliberately created a false sense of security with the victims in that the fake personalities were portrayed as being wealthy and in a position to repay the monies that were advanced by the victims.
’’He pretended to the first victim to be Marcos Ivan. He communicated with her via a profile created on the internet dating site and sent her photos of himself. As a result of this deception, the victim deposited a total of R314 950 between November 2017 and January 2018,” said the NPA.
The woman believed she was dealing with Michael Brandy Smart.
“Eze used the same modus operandi and deceived the woman into depositing R186 080 into different bank accounts held by four different people. The third victim was the worst victim as she deposited more than the other two.
’’She believed she was assisting Craig Thompson and deposited R534 000 in different bank accounts also held by different people. In total, the victims deposited R1 035 030.
’’Hundreds of thousands of rands were transferred and withdrawn on bank accounts held by Yolanda Mange, R Mapheelle, Hako XB, LC Sihepo, Global Shipping, LF Coe, O Dlikilili and P Mendrew. This formed the basis of the nine counts of money laundering,” said the NPA.
Senior State advocate Lucinda Mcani said: “It was a scam to win the trust of the complainants to ensure they made the payments as described totalling R1 035 030.
’’The offences committed contain elements of premeditation on the part of Eze. They have a substantial element of dishonesty and the nature and the gravity of the offences are serious.”