Fraudster who tried to flee to Canada jailed

Fraudster who tried to flee to Canada jailed

A man who defrauded a Bristol-based company out of nearly half a million pounds and later tried to flee to Canada has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation at Bristol Crown Court last Friday (25 September).

Bolaji Ogunsola, 34, of no fixed abode, was arrested by officers from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) in October 2019 after they identified him as the man posing as a supplier to Imperial Tobacco Group and requesting payment of several invoices totalling £459k.

When searching his Manchester flat, officers found £11,600 cash, which was seized and confiscated as part of Friday’s hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, as well as multiple fake European identity documents, including one in the name of the passport he later attempted to flee to Canada with.  The £459k payments made by Imperial Tobacco Group were frozen and returned.

Ogunsola, who failed to answer bail, was arrested again last February after an attempt to fly from Dublin to Canada was stopped by immigration officers.  He has been remanded in custody since.

Detective Inspector Louise Boyce from the SW ROCU said: “This was a sophisticated attack on a major business where the offender went to great lengths to convincingly pose as the supplier he was impersonating. 

“Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a major threat to all organisations of all sizes, and across all sectors.  These types of incidents can be very difficult to detect, as they are crafted to appeal to specific targets.

“Organisations need to be aware that criminal groups have become much more sophisticated in this space, and there are a number of steps that companies should take to become more resilient to this type of crime.”

Imperial Tobacco Group’s Head of Cyber Security Tom Blane said: “Like many businesses, we recognise that cyber-attacks are sometimes an unavoidable part of modern life.  All too often these attacks go unresolved, but we are pleased that thanks to the hard work of the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit this conviction has been secured.  The unit has provided both reactive and proactive support to the business over the last few years, which has been invaluable.”

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offers protective advice on Business Email Compromise BEC and Phishing attacks.

Free cyber security support is offered by regional and local cyber crime units.  This service is comprised of dedicated Cyber Protect Officers who can deliver awareness sessions, interactive workshops, and technical exercises focused on incident response and recovery, to help prevent companies falling victim to cyber crime. More information can be found here.