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Blind opera singer conned by Uber driver who gave himself £20 tip and five-star rating using her phone

Phoebe Southworth
Victoria Oruwari, an acclaimed soprano who lost her sight when she was a child - Victoria Oruwari/Victoria Oruwari

An Uber driver conned a blind opera singer out of £20 and awarded himself a five-star rating after persuading her to hand over her phone.

Cornel Mihai lied to BBC talent show star Victoria Oruwari that he needed to use her mobile following a trip from London Bridge to Croydon because his wasn't working.

The 32-year-old then used the device to add a £20 tip on top of her fare and gave himself a rating of five stars for his driving performance on the evening of June 29 last year.

Mihai, of Dagenham, east London, was convicted of a single count of fraud by false representation following a trial at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

He was released on unconditional bail ahead of a sentencing hearing next month.

Miss Oruwari, an acclaimed soprano who lost her sight when she was a child, told The  Telegraph: "Somebody in a position of responsibility took advantage of me and the verdict reinforces that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable.

"People have to get by in life and we have to be able to trust. That position of responsibility shouldn't be abused."

Passionate about singing since her school years, Miss Oruwari has performed recitals at prestigious venues including Kensington Palace, the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre.

She reached the final of the BBC's All Together Now music talent show in 2018, reducing former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell to tears with her rendition of Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.

The Nigeria-born music teacher, who studied at Trinity Laban conservatoire in London, said during the contest: "I feel like losing my sight has made me more aware of the beauty in music.

"My singing is something I can't live without. I would visualise myself singing in pretty ball gowns standing in front of a lot of people."

Uber did not respond to a request for comment.