A man involved in elaborate frauds to trick elderly women into handing over thousands of euro has pleaded guilty to a raft of charges, including money laundering.

Marvis Iyeke, a Nigerian national who lives in Malta, was handed a two-year jail sentence suspended for four years and a €20,000 fine, to be paid within two years.

The court also ordered him to return a combined total of €14,000 to his two victims within six months.

Iyeke was one of several people arrested and charged by the police in connection with romance fraud cybercrime.

Prosecutors alleged that the fraudsters would pose as made-up people online, befriend lonely and elderly women and get them to transfer thousands of euro to them over several months.

In the most high-profile case, a team of seven people including Iyeke allegedly worked for months to develop an online relationship with a local 72-year-old widow, by posing as a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan.

The woman would go on to transfer €58,000 in various small transactions to her fictitious friend.

Iyeke was charged with two such cases, and this week pleaded guilty before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, following in the footsteps of many of his co-accused.

He admitted to money laundering charges and having knowingly received stolen property. 

In sentencing him, the court noted that Iyeke had registered a guilty plea at a late stage in proceedings but had a clean criminal record.

The court described his crimes as “wicked and despicable” ones that took advantage of the kindness, generosity and vulnerability of two women.

Should Iyeke fail to pay the court fine or refund his victims within the stipulated time frame, he will immediately be sent to jail to serve his two-year sentence, the court told him.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb represented the accused.

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