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Man who pretended to be American basketball player to con women out of thousands jailed

Ivan Nkazi, 31, pretended to be American basketball player to seduce women out of thousands of pounds

A ‘romance fraudster’ pretended to be an American basketball player to seduce women and con them out of thousands of pounds.

Ivan Nkazi exploited women out of significant sums of money under the pretence of building a relationship, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Today, the trickster was jailed for three years, after a judge described his behaviour as ‘cynical and arrogant’ and detailed how he had hoodwinked 20 separate victims over a four-year period.

The 31-year-old masterminded a ‘prolonged and calculated operation’ which displayed high levels of organisation and persistence, said prosecutor Louise McCloskey. 

Nkazi committed his frauds like a ‘lucrative business’, with police recovering one phone from his bedroom which contained more than 100 contacts of women, separate to those involved in this case.

The French-speaker operated an indexing system setting out the name of the complainant, the alias he used, the back story, the telephone number, and the dating site used – including Plenty of Fish, Tinder and Bumble.

Mrs McCloskey said: ‘This was a full time job for this defendant.’

Nkazi, originally from The Congo in Africa but living in Belle Vale, Liverpool, compiled false dating profiles on various sites using countless aliases and photographs.

One of the images Nkazi used was that of American basketball player Serge Ibaka (above)

One of the images Nkazi used was that of American basketball player Serge Ibaka (above)

One of the main images used by him was that of an American basketball player, Serge Ibaka.

The court heard how the celebrity would be relatively unknown in the UK, given the limited coverage of the sport, but provided the defendant with both a convincing image which afforded him protection from being easily detected.

He also used a variety of names including Dior Leblanc, Gerard Le Blanc, Lancel Lenoir, Lavin and Jerome.

In total, he conned his way to almost £24,000.

Ms McCloskey said: ‘Each of the offences began like any other genuine online encounter for the complainants.

‘There was the polite exchange of messages initially on the dating websites messenger service then communication would move to WhatsApp and other social media messaging platforms which are encrypted and once deleted cannot be retrieved.

‘The defendant used information about his own personal life and children to maintain his lies but changed more intimate details to avoid detection.

‘It clearly helped to engender a level of trust with the complainants that the defendant advertised himself as a father.

‘The details of the con used by the defendant remained consistent throughout the whole of his offending.

‘He would create a situation that could easily be encountered then added in elements of racism, financial desperation and emotional blackmail to ensure payment would be made.

‘Dates were arranged in various locations but when the defendant was supposedly en-route issues would arise with his vehicle, the police, and his [bank] cards which prompted initial requests for money.

‘The complainants genuinely believed that they were beginning a relationship, for some they were rebuilding lives from previous failed relationships, some would send intimate photographs of themselves which would then be used to humiliate threaten and degrade them out of further sums of money.

‘When challenged or if payment was refused in a number of cases the defendant would threaten violence, either against the complainants or members of their family.

Nkazi exploited women out of significant sums of money under the pretence of building a relationship, Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) heard

Nkazi exploited women out of significant sums of money under the pretence of building a relationship, Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) heard

‘Threats would be made to post the intimate photographs and videos online.’

He even pledged to throw acid into women’s faces.

Police quickly realised they were dealing with a ‘prolific’ offender and embarked on a massive probe which focused on his phones, bank accounts and his widespread use of online dating websites.

Nkazi operated the fraud for at last four years and even continued when detectives started to study his behaviour.

Ms McCloskey added: ‘The offences not only resulted in financial hardship for many of the complainants but the physical and emotional impact has been far more devastating.

‘These types of fraud offences are far from victimless and the number of lives which have been affected by this defendant’s offending can be clearly seen through the statements of all of the complainants including those who appear as offences to be taken into consideration.

‘The complainants speak of their embarrassment and shame, but it is the defendant who should be embarrassed and ashamed of taking advantage of women who did nothing more than demonstrate the most important of human characteristics, which is kindness and generosity of spirit.’

Nkazi pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud, and some further charges of making a malicious communication.

Detective Sergeant Chris Hawitt said: ‘I welcome the sentencing of Nkazi and praise both the victims for coming forward and the investigative work of all officers involved in bringing this man to justice.

‘Nkazi defrauded his victims when he contacted them through dating websites pretending to be someone else.

‘Here, he would blackmail and even threaten some victims into paying him large sums of money. 

‘All the time, never having any intention of engaging in a real relationship with them.

‘He is also reported to have threatened to throw acid in some victims’ faces, turn up at their work and harm their families.

‘Nkazi, who was originally arrested by Cheshire Police on 8th January 2018, carried on engaging with women across the country whilst under investigation.

‘The case was passed to Merseyside Police, where after a further two-week investigation, Nkazi was again arrested, charged and remanded in custody.

‘Nkazi is a cruel human being who manipulated countless women for his own financial gain.

‘He clearly had no respect for those he was speaking to and tricked them into thinking he had feelings for them.

‘I hope he takes this time to reflect on the emotional and financial torment he has inflicted on these women and they can also find some closure in this court result.

‘I would continue encouraging anyone using any social media or dating websites to take extra care when speaking to people they don’t know. 

Remain cautious regardless of how believable the person or their profile claims to be.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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