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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

Woman who swindled €96,000 from elderly man had "fraudster's handbook" with bizarre 9/11 sob story

Patricia Wutaan had a notebook full of scam scripts, including “I am a celebrity fashionista” and “My sewing machine is faulty.”

CO987-15Wutaan Patricia Wutaan Source: Metropolitan Police

A LONDON WOMAN has been convicted of money laundering and possession of articles for use in fraud, after an elaborate scheme that involved sob stories about 9/11 and sewing machines.

Patricia Wutaan, 56, was arrested in Bromley, South London last year.

She had £16,300 in her coat pocket, which she claimed was from a friend in Switzerland, whose name she couldn’t remember.

At her house, police found what they are calling a “romance fraudster’s handbook”, with prepared scripts and tall tales designed to defraud unsuspecting men.

They included bizarre sob stories, such as the following:

  • “I am a widow. Lost my husband to 9/11 terror attacks in New York. He made it out of the collapsed building but he later died because of heavy dust and smoke and he was asthmatic.”
  • “I’ve not been in a relationship since demise of late husband. I am in London to meet family attorney of late husband to negotiate on how to clear the identified assets he left me. He left me a vague will with some conditions to meet before I could access the assets and cash he left me in his will. I must be able to prove to the family attorney that I have moved on with my life and show I am engaged with someone else.”
  • “My sewing machine is faulty. Although I have now fixed it but I used the money I am supposed to pay my house rent to fix it and now I am broke and can’t afford to pay my house rent. Told him I am worried because if I don’t pay I’ll have to leave.”

In a notebook, Wutaan included instructions on how to manipulate men into giving her money.

“Stay calm and moody until you get his final word,” she wrote.

Let him do most of the talking, be sad and worried about taking care of bills for rest of the month. When he asks what he can do to help ask him for $2000 – $3000.

ocuu2jhirxr7omfbevnq An excerpt from Patricia Wutaan's romance fraudster's handbook. Source: Metropolitan Police

Despite her denials, handwriting analysis definitively showed Wutaan had written the handbook. Detectives also found photocopies of fake passports and driver’s licenses at her home.

Financial investigators then spotted three large payments into her bank account the previous month, from a 70-year-old man in Switzerland.

With the help of Interpol, the Metropolitan Police eventually concluded Wutaan had falsely presented herself on a dating website, gained the elderly man’s trust, and persuaded him to pay her a total of £70,000 (€96,940).

She had falsely told him she needed the money to free up funds from her father’s estate.

Yesterday, Wutaan was convicted on three counts of money laundering, and two counts of possession of articles for use in fraud, at Southwark Crown Court.

She will be sentenced in January.

roystonrd Royston Road in Bromley, where Patricia Wutaan lived. Source: Google Maps

Reacting to the verdict, Detective Inspector Pete Ward said:

Wutaan’s home was an Aladdin’s cave of fraudsters’ scripts and false IDs. It was almost like she was compiling a fraudsters’ handbook.
The scripts she had written demonstrate exactly the kinds of stories that victims are fed by fraudsters; designed to manipulate the victim into feeling sorry for them and wanting to help them.

He encouraged potential victims of fraud not to be embarrassed, and come forward to police.

I urge anyone using a dating site to question what they are being told by other ‘daters’, especially when they are being asked for money or personal details.

Read: Man jailed for charging pensioner €14,000 for doing €1,000 worth of work>

Read: Three people transferred over €50,000 after getting phone calls from “gardaí”>

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Dan MacGuill

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