A Nigerian fraudster, one Frank Onyeachonam, has further brought the name and image of the country into more dent as he has been jailed for eight years in the United Kingdom for running a lottery scam targeted at pensioners. I
n the process, Frank who is also known as Fizzy, stole over $800,000 and spent the money on a lavish lifestyle, loud parties, expensive champagne, fast cars and lived like a millionaire.
Frank Onyeachonam ran the UK end of global lottery scam that was orchestrated from his native Nigeria for seven years to fund his lavish millionaire’s lifestyle.
It involved hundreds of perpetrators in several countries, detectives say.
In the UK, 38-year-old Onyeachonam conned pensioners out of sums from £2,000 to £600,000, deliberately targeting his victims because they were potentially vulnerable to his tactics.
While he bled them of their life savings, Onyeachonam enjoyed a life of fast cars, champagne and designer clothes.
Pictures he posted on Facebook show he spent the cash on Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Armani designer clothes, Rolex watches, Porsches and Maseratis.
He even stuck wads of what look like £50 notes in his Buzz Lightyear toy.
Onyeachonam, of Canning Town, east London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiracy to defraud following a three-week trial.
A regular in members’ clubs, Onyeachonam’s favourite drink was Ace of Spades champagne costing between £300 and £500 a bottle. His fridge was also stacked with Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon.
Investigators traced 14 victims – mainly from the U.S. but including one from Britain – who were defrauded of a total of around £900,000.
But detectives believe this is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with evidence suggesting there may have been as many as 400 victims and the sum may be as high as £30 million.
Onyeachonam was seen as the key figure in the UK but police suspect a criminal network was in place in several countries around the world. Authorities found an alleged co-conspirator abroad had an email containing the details of more than 100,000 potential victims.
Detectives believe this is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with evidence suggesting there may have been as many as 400 victims and the sum may be as high as £30 million
The defendant was thought to have started working on the scam almost immediately after he arrived in the UK from Nigeria in 2005, and was said to have carried on into 2012 while he was on bail following his arrest the year before.
Using the alias Dr. Jeff Lloyds, Onyeachonam built up a rapport with his victims and continued extracting money from some for as long as seven years.
In order to make the required payments several victims took out high interest loans, forcing them to come out of retirement to repay the debts.
Some of those exploited by Onyeachonam suffered the added trauma of falling under suspicion themselves as they were used as ‘pawns’ in the criminal network to launder the proceeds of the fraud by sending on money from other victims or setting up business accounts.
Emails showed victims pleaded with Onyeachonam to send them money to pay for health care, while some died before he could be brought to justice.
The British victim was left with debts of £90,000 and was forced to sell her home, move into rented accommodation and return to work in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.
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