A woman who helped defraud hundreds of UK students online has been ordered to pay back almost £630,000 after admitting she made £1.2million from her crimes.
On Monday 14 September, the Old Bailey heard how Ruth Smith-Ajala, 46, a Nigerian national of Redlands Way, Lambeth was jailed in December 2013 for her part in conning students out of more than £1.5m.
Students were sent emails inviting them to update details on their student loan account via a link to a bogus website.
When the site was accessed by the unsuspecting victims, a cyber crime gang gained unauthorised access to their bank accounts, stealing large amounts of money.
Smith-Ajala used her share of the cash to buy products in the UK, which she then shipped out for sale at a wholesaler in Lagos she owns.
During her trial, Smith-Ajala tried to convince the court that she was running a legitimate business but she was ultimately found guilty of conspiracy to launder money and mortgage fraud.
The mortgage fraud related to seven houses that Smith-Ajala was renting out in Gravesend, Northfleet and Chatam, in Kent; Grays, in Essex; and Catford, in London.
In conjunction with the investigation, specialist detectives from the Met’s Central Criminal Finance Team (CFT) launched a financial investigation. They and the Crown Prosecution Service obtained a restraint order for the properties and Smith-Ajala’s banks accounts were frozen, prohibiting her from selling the houses and hiding the money.
As a result of the confiscation proceedings, Smith-Ajala will now have to sell the houses, using the profits and rent money to pay the confiscation sum.
DI Ward went on to explain that she has three months to pay back the money she obtained, or face a further five years in prison. “If she doesn’t pay the money by the time she is out of prison, the order will remain and her finances will be scrutinized to ensure she continues to pay up.”