A Nigerian gospel singer, Oluwamayowa Ajayi, who fleeced four American women he met on the internet dating site, Match.com, of over £120,000 was jailed for six and a half years on Friday evening at Snakesbrook Crown Court in East London.
Ajayi, 31, who is an overstayer in Britain, looked blank and showed no outward emotions as he was handed the sentence. As if resigned to fate, he walked sheepishly behind one of the two female security guards who led him out of Courtroom 20, where his fate was sealed.
About a minute earlier, Judge Sarah Paneth told him, “I’m sentencing you to six and a half years. You may now go down - a technical term for jail. “
Ajayi, who performs under the stage name, “Malo Joe“ pretended to be an American fighter pilot, a grieving widower and an oil executive to the women he fleeced before the long arms of the law caught up with him.
Prior to his sentencing that evening, both the crown prosecutor and his defence counsel spent close to two hours making last minute submissions to the Judge.
While the crown prosecutor summed up his argument stating how Ajayi lived off the women by lying - among others, in one instance - that he had been held hostage by Niger Delta militants and therefore, his captors needed some ransom before he could be released, otherwise, they would kill him, his defence lawyer, John Femi - Ola pleaded with the court: “don’t crush him so that he can have the opportunity to do something useful with his life,” after his term. Femi-Ola also told the Judge that “this is his first time.”
Despite the pleas for mercy, it was inevitable that he would be caged. After listening to the pleas from both sides, the Judge took a 20 minute break at 3.40p.m. and when the court re-convened at 4.00p.m., she took about 40 minutes to read her sentencing notes, detailing the seven- count charge that Ajayi had been found guilty of by the jury who had found him guilty four days earlier.
In one instance, he tricked and lied to one of his victims who parted with over $100,000, that he was a businessman who was short of cash and therefore, needed a loan. The woman used some of the money on her credit card and also borrowed from family members to raise the funds.
In another, Ajayi claimed he was in the hands of Niger Delta militants and they would kill him within 20 hours if the woman didn’t do anything about the ransom they asked her to pay. She hurriedly sent $500 through Moneygram to Nigeria, where he then cashed the money.
According to the Judge, “all the four women were embarrassed” when each discovered they were dealing with a con man and not someone who loved them and was in a relationship. Of course, none knew about the other until detectives contacted them after his arrest.
The Judge told him,” you defrauded women of the sums the women cannot afford to lose.”
Ajayi, the Judge noted, would have continued preying on more innocent women had the arms of the law not caught up with him. As the Judge read her notes, his well wishers, numbering about seven, gasped and he looked resigned to his imminent fate before the curtain fell on his fraudulent life at 4.40p.m., when the judge told him, “I’m sentencing you to six and a half years. You may now go down.” The court guards wasted no time in sandwiching him between themselves as they led him out of the courtroom.
Although it’s not certain if he will be deported after his term, but Ajayi, who initially came to the United Kingdom (UK) on a six month visa in 2004, overstayed. He then left and on his return to the UK, falsely obtained a driver’s licence using the name of a Portuguese man who had died in 2004. This, the Judge noted, showed that the gospel singer was a chief in the criminal operation for which he was being jailed.