A calculating fraudster, known as ‘Fizzy’ because of his champagne-fuelled lifestyle, has been found guilty and jailed for eight years for scamming the elderly and vulnerable with a lottery fraud.
Frank Onyeachonam 38 has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of ripping off dozens of victims for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and has been sentenced to serve eight years in jail.
The fraud started in 2005, which the National Crime Agency (NCA) said was a variation on the traditional fake lottery scam; which encouraged his victims to set up ‘legitimate’ businesses, with accompanying bank accounts which were then used to launder the proceeds of the fraud.
As a result, some of the victims were themselves investigated by law enforcement for money laundering.
Victims would receive a letter advising them they had won the Australian lottery and instructing to call the lottery agent, Dr Jeff Lloyds, an alias used by Frank Onyeachonam of East London, who ran the UK-end of a global scam that was orchestrated from his native Nigeria.
After receiving a letter they were told they needed to pay fees and taxes before they could receive a large cash prize – known as an “advance fee fraud”.
Many victims took out high value loans, believing they would be able to pay them back once they received their lottery winnings. As a result, one victim in the United States lost £60,000 and her house, whilst another in the UK ran up debts of £90,000.
Police raided London flat
Lists containing the names of over 5,000 US citizens were found on Mr Onyeachonam’s computers, with the details of individuals susceptible to these types of scams, known as ‘suckers lists’.
In addition, handwritten names, contact details and payment and bank details of over 400 individuals were found. Of the victims that were spoken to, 12 have confirmed losses totalling approximately £900,000.
If all of those in the notebooks suffered losses, the fraud is likely to have run to at least £5m and possibly as high as £30m. Emails recovered by police showed victims pleaded with Onyeachonam to send them money to pay for healthcare, while some died before he could be brought to justice.
His accomplices in the scam Lawrencia Emenyonu, 38, and Bernard Armah, 51, both of Wood Green, north London, were found guilty of money laundering, and were jailed for 18 months and eight months respectively.
Throughout the investigation, NCA officers worked with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the FBI in the United States, as well as the US Postal Inspection Service and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Onyeachonam showed no remorse
The 38 year old fraudster lived an extravagant lifestyle. He had a luxury apartment overlooking the River Thames in London, is believed to have owned two houses in Nigeria and drove high-spec cars including a BMW convertible. He frequented a private members’ club in Canary Wharf and would only drink Ace of Spades champagne, at £300 to £500 a bottle.
On summing up, Her Honour Judge Poulet said by giving a not guilty plea, Onyeachonam “showed no remorse” and he continued to offend following his arrest “with an arrogance that is unbelievable”.
For further information visit the NCA website.
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