‘Heartless’ romance fraudster, 28, who fleeced two women including elderly victim and carried out £160,000 banking scam is jailed for four years
- Prince Rodriguez took over £25,000 out of one of his victim’s bank accounts
- Rodriguez, from Hackney in east London, caused his victim ‘sleepless nights’
- The scammer was first inducted into a network of scammers through Craigslist
- Defence barrister James Higbee said Rodriguez saw it all as ‘electronic money’
- The judge called Rodriguez’ actions ‘dishonest, persistent and heartless’
A romance fraudster who fleeced two women and carried out a £160,000 banking scam has been jailed for four years.
Prince Rodriguez, 28, left one of his victims suffering sleepless nights and was branded ‘heartless’ by judge Philip Katz.
The judge outlined the first romance fraud, inflicted on an elderly woman, named only as ‘Ms Dale’, as he sentenced Rodriguez at the Old Bailey.
‘It seems that over a very sustained period of time that elderly lady was the subject of a callous and sophisticated fraud involving a large number of people stealing her savings.
‘You played the role of someone called Mr Felix in an attempt to get her to launder some Sterling into Euros, effectively manipulating her into allowing you to use her bank account.
‘Heartless’ romance scammer Prince Rodriguez, 28, has been sentenced to four years in prison after defrauding two women and being involved in a £160,000 banking scam
‘Followed up by phone calls on your part…pressured her to make transfers in your favour.’
Ms Dale said in a victim impact statement read to the court: ‘I am a happy and easy going person who would help anyone but because of my good willed nature I have been manipulated to give to someone I trusted my hard earned money.
‘I often have sleepless night because of the disappointment and worry over this.
‘I am a believer that good people are in this world still…but I have been truly let down.’
Alex du Sautoy, prosecuting, said the second romance fraud related to a woman called Ms Hershman who was contacted in 2015 by someone named Mr Benson.
‘The prosecution’s case is that Mr Rodriguez was posing as Mr Benson.
‘He told her he was in Malaysia with his daughter and needed money.
‘She sent money to several different accounts [under his instruction].
‘In July last year Barclays contacted Ms Hershman about payments of over £25,000 made to three different accounts.
‘It transpires all those transfers were made by Mr Rodriguez.’
Rodriguez also made an application for vehicle finance for the lease of a Mercedes E class valued at £45,000.
He submitted false documents including a Barclays bank statement and proof of employment to support his application.
He was also involved in a telephone bank scam totalling more than £157,000, the court heard.
James Higbee, defending, said Rodriguez saw it all as ‘electronic money’ and could not see how his actions were affecting the victims involved.
‘He has come to terms with the exact gravity of what he has done.
‘He is so young. Young at the time of starting these offences. I would not say naïve… but immature as to the impact on other people.’
In relation to the romance frauds Rodriguez’ defence barrister, James Higbee, said:
‘The defendant was selling items on Craigslist and was contacted by other people who he now knows to be fraudsters.
‘They said do you want to be part of our wider scheme.’
He said that Rodriguez was then inducted into a wider group and the romance fraud scams relating to Ms Dale and Ms Hershman were schemes run by that larger operation.
Judge Katz told the fraudster: ‘The fact of the matter is once you started offending you were pretty determined to show that you were dishonest, persistent and heartless.
Sentencing him to a total of four years in prison, he left Rodriguez with these words: ‘It is up to you what you make of your life when you are released.
‘I take everything the probation service have said with a pinch of salt.
‘I hope you turn your life around.’
Prince – also known as Husam Rodriguez – of Bayston Road, Hackney, east London, admitted four counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of possessing control article for use in fraud, one count of possessing criminal property, one count of transferring criminal property, and two counts of harassment in breach of a restraining order.A
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