Saheed Azeez, 33-year-old conman, won refugee status in Britain by claiming he was persecuted in Nigeria for being gay.
He was later to have three children with three women in Britain and masterminded a £220,000 Facebook and eBay parcel fraud racket.
Saheed, an asylum seeker, had been allowed to settle in the UK after claiming he faced persecution by Boko Haram militants – but after moving to the country he had three children with three women, marrying the third.
He now says he is bisexual, dailymail.co.uk reports.
As he settled in Wigan, Greater Manchester, Azeez began working with Nigerian fraudsters to establish a network of strangers for a ‘sophisticated and well resourced’ sales scam to steal items being sold on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and WhatsApp.
Victims selling high value goods would be persuaded to send their items to a number of addresses on the promise of being paid on arrival – but Azeez would simply pick up the goods and sell them in his brother’s electronics shop.
Over 14 months, up to 272 victims sent goods worth a combined £220,000 to the homes of strangers that Azeez persuaded to take part in the scam, giving his ‘partners’ a cut from each sale in return for taking delivery of the ill-gotten goods.
Police eventually tracked down Azeez as he was dropping off one of his young sons at primary school. As he was about to be detained, he hid three smartphones used in the scam inside the boy’s school bag, which were found by a teaching assistant.
The phones were found to contain videos made by Azeez: one sent to an underworld contact named ‘Baddest Boy’ showed images of used smartphones stolen from sellers. Most of the proceeds were spirited out of the UK using Bitcoin.
At Bolton Crown Court, Azeez admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and plotting to possess criminal property. He will be sentenced next week but faces up to six years in jail.
Nine householders who allowed their addresses to be used as ‘drops’ in the scam will be sentenced next year. It is feared several others have not been traced.
The scam took place between September 2020 and November 2021 after former Yodel delivery driver Azeez began providing ‘delivery services’ through his own firm for online fraudsters who used Nigerian phones to dupe Facebook and eBay users based in the UK.
Police began to establish a pattern of parcels being sent to addresses linked to Azeez and swooped on him in November 2021 as he dropped his son off at school, later seizing the phones he tried to hide.
Mr Andy Evans, prosecuting, said: ‘The phones were accessed and interrogated and clearly showed his role in three online frauds.
‘He had provided his services to online fraudsters who contacted him from Nigerian registered phone numbers.
‘Azeez wasn’t necessarily the architect of the fraud but he provided his services as a sub-contractor.’
The court heard that the network of fraudsters would be told ahead of time to expect a delivery under a fake name. Each of them, the court heard, was ‘desperate for money’, and were encouraged to recruit others for the scam.
Mr Evans added: ‘The exact monetary value of the parcel frauds and physical items which passed through Azeez’s hands will never be known but the number of the victims impacted by him number in the hundreds.
‘This was a targeted and well-resourced dishonesty and he played a leading role in the group conspiracy. He was the sole link to the online fraudsters. It was a sophisticated fraud which required considerable planning to build the network.’ [Daily Mail]