Published: 10:29, 03 March 2020
| Updated: 10:41, 03 March 2020
A Northfleet husband and wife were involved in a scam which cost the victim £120,000 - and almost his marriage.
Fraudsters Johnson Mujungu, 53, and Grace Ntolera-Mujungu, 42, allowed their bank accounts to be used by the money laundering racket, a jury has decided.
A judge heard victim Lee Finch was tricked by email into paying an inheritance tax bill into their account.
Maidstone Crown Court has now been told Mr Finch had to pay the bill again, and has now learned his bank is refusing to reimburse him.
The devious couple, from Struttons Avenue, were found guilty of fraud and money-laundering charges, despite claiming they thought the deposit was for other work.
A jury rejected their lies and convicted them both of being involved in the scam, which the judge heard had caused anguish and worry which almost ruined the victim's marriage.
But former carer and nurse Ntolera-Mujungu escaped going to prison after the judge heard she has a 10-year-old child.
Her husband - who the judge said played the leading role in fraud - was jailed for 30 months.
The jury heard how August and September 2017, the victim had emailed a solicitor's firm to settle an inheritance tax bill for a relative.
Unknown to them, others hacked into the email account and the crooked couple's details were submitted - and, in innocence, Mr Finch paid the bill.
It was only later he realised the money had not gone to the firm of solicitors but into the bank account of the fraudsters.
The £120,000 was then "dispersed" by Ntolera-Mujungu and her husband who were both in debt at the time.
Mr Finch, from Essex, told the court in his victim impact statement that the trauma caused by the cruel deception had "almost cost him his marriage".
Prosecutor Walton Hornsby said the bank had refused to compensate him for the missing cash.
And Judge Stephen Thomas added: "The bank has told the victim they won't give him the money and the consequences and the upset has had an affect on his life in general.
"The consequences for him have been truly awful, who through no fault or negligence on his part, lost this money and caused his life considerable damage.
"That money somehow got diverted into your bank accounts and was then dispersed around."
"And in my judgment his wife just went along with it, although she would have known what was happening..."
He added that although Mujungu was convicted on one money-laundering charge involving £50,000 while his wife was convicted on two charges for £120,000, he regarded the husband as more culpable.
The judge said: "I had the opportunity to see you both give evidence (during the trial), and, as a finding of fact, I find that Mujungu was the prime mover in this scheme.
"And in my judgment his wife just went along with it, although she would have known what was happening."
The judge told the weeping mother that sending her to prison my be damaging to her child - and decided to suspended the 18-month jail sentence for two years.
She was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.
The Crown Prosecution Service is expected too begin an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the money from the couple's assets.
More by this authorPaul Hooper
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