A ‘gay’ Nigerian asylum seeker who went on to father three children by three different women in Britain was the mastermind behind a £220,000 (€252,000) Facebook and eBay parcel fraud scam, a U.K. court has heard.
Saheed Azeez, 33, was granted asylum in Britain after telling authorities he faced persecution by the Boko Haram terrorist organization for being homosexual but has since fathered three children and married a woman in the U.K.
He now faces up to six years in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. He is accused of establishing a parcel scam in collaboration with other Nigerian conmen to defraud individuals selling goods on Facebook Marketplace and eBay.
Bolton Crown Court heard how Azeez and his fraudster gang would persuade vulnerable sellers to depart with their goods before receiving payment and established a multitude of drop zones at addresses in the Greater Manchester area of northeast England.
Azeez would then collect the goods on arrival, pay those offering their address as a drop zone a percentage of their value, and sell the items in his brother’s second-hand electrical store in Wigan.
The prosecution alleged that Azeez ran the scam for over 14 months between September 2020 and November 2021, stealing goods worth over €252,000 from 272 victims.
He was eventually tracked down by police after the authorities made connections between several of the drop zone addresses and Azeez, and the suspect was arrested as he dropped one of his sons off at school.
During the arrest, Azeez sought to dispose of three mobile phones by hiding them in his son’s school bag which were ultimately recovered by the police.
“The phones were accessed and interrogated and clearly showed his role in three online frauds,” the prosecutor told the court.
“He had provided his services to online fraudsters who contacted him from Nigerian registered phone numbers,” he added.
Azeez’s defense counsel Chloe Fordham claimed that her client is now bisexual and would face persecution should he be deported back to Nigeria.
“He now has three children in the UK by three different mothers and is married to the mother of the third child. He has parental responsibilities to all the children,” the court heard in mitigation.
Miss Fordham added that her client had been duped himself by the fraudsters, believing he was doing “legitimate work delivering and collecting parcels,” but when he found out he was not strong enough to walk away because of his past of being “exploited, tortured, and abused” back in Nigeria.
Azeez is due to be sentenced next week.