A 38-year-old UK-based Nigerian man named, Frank Onyeachonam has been sentenced to 8 years in jail for conducting the UK end of a global lottery scam.
Onyeachonam, who is also known as “Fizzy” because of his love for fizzy alcoholic drinks is said to have defrauded vulnerable pensioners via the lottery scam of £30 Million over the course of seven years, according toDaily Mail.
Following a three-week trial, he was charged with ” conspiracy to defraud.”
His accomplices in the UK: Bernard Armah, 51, and Lawrencia Emenyonu,38, were also found guilty of money laundering, and have been sentenced to an 8-month and 18-month jail term respectively.
They have all denied the charges.
Onyeachonam, who is a married father of two, reportedly targeted people who were “crippled, old or poor.’
How the scams were conducted
This is how the scam, known as ‘advance fee’ fraud was carried out:
Using an alias, Onyeachonam would send victims an e-mail, informing them that they had won the Australian lottery. He would then instruct them to call him on the phone. He would subsequently urge them to send him money so he could release the lottery funds.
The fake lottery winnings ranged from £2 million to £9 million.
Once they sent the cash, victims were roped into the continuous scam.
What investigations uncovered
Investigations were led by the UK’s National Crime Agency in collaboration with the Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service in the U.S.
The investigators were able to trace 14 victims who were predominantly from the U.S, and one from the UK, whom Onyeachonam allegedly defrauded of £900,000.
According to reports, evidence indicates that he had over 400 victims whom he extorted around a total of £30 million from.
Onyeachonam is reportedly considered to be the key suspect in the UK , but police say a criminal network may have been in place in several countries around the world.
Authorities also discovered an alleged co-conspirator abroad, who had an email containing the details of more than 100,000 potential victims.
Status of the case
The prosecution is said to be advocating for a confiscation hearing for Onyeachonam.
A confiscation order is “an order that a convicted defendant pay a certain sum of money representing the defendant’s benefits from crime to the Crown. The order does not, as may be thought, “confiscate” or require the surrender of a particular asset or assets.”