A conman who won refugee status in Britain by claiming to be gay fearing persecution in his native Nigeria been caught in a £220,000 Facebook and eBay parcel fraud racket.
Saheed Azeez, 33, had been allowed to settle in the UK after claiming he faced persecution by Boko Haram militants – but have since fathered three children with three women, marrying the third since settling in the UK. He now says he is bisexual.
From his base in Wigan, Greater Manchester, Azeez began working with Nigerian fraudsters, establishing 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 few 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 school. As he was about to be detained, he hid three smartphones used in the scam inside the boy’s school bag, which were later 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.
Azeez pleaded guilty at Bolton crown court to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and plotting to possess criminal property. He faces up to six years in jail.
He will be sentenced next week.