Emmanuel Okunoren received a four and half year custodial sentence for fraud by false representation at Exeter Crown Court.
The Devon and Cornwall police investigation and CPS prosecution demonstrated that Okunoren gained the trust of the victim and deceived them, by falsely claiming that he worked for a company called TMT investments, which was in fact a sham. The victim had originally lost money from a previous wine investment scheme which had not come to fruition.
The defendant identified the victim from this previous investment attempt and exploited his desire to recover his “lost” cases of wine. Okunoren falsely claimed that TMT Investments was able to retrieve the wine from where it was being stored and persuaded the victim that this could be done if significant administration fees and costs were met. As a result, between May 2020 and October 2020, the victim transferred a total of £399,334 to TMT investments in an effort to unlock these problems.
This was a well organised and sophisticated fraud as the victim was duped into making payments to a number of different bank accounts. The money was quickly dissipated either as cash withdrawals or onward transactions. No wine was never recovered.
Okunoren had an unexplained lavish lifestyle funded through cash. HMRC have no records of any legitimate earnings or declared income for him, over preceding years but the police recovered from his flat high-value designer goods such as Rolex watches, thousands of pounds in cash and evidence of substantial spending at Harrods and a holiday to Dubai.
Julie Snell of the CPS said: “Okunoren gained the trust of the victim through a web of lies and deceptions and cynically exploited the vulnerability arising from the victim’s previous losses to an earlier wine investment scheme.
“In reality the defendant did not work for TMT Investment and his claims were nothing more than an elaborate sham to extract as much money as he could from the victim.”
The CPS is committed to working alongside the government and law enforcement to provide a multi-agency response to combat investment fraud. CPS prosecutors work to seek justice in a variety of cases including those that cause the greatest harm to the public especially vulnerable victims.