A Nigerian fraudster who funded a playboy lifestyle by cheating pensioners out of their life savings has reached the end of the road.
Godwin Nwaofor, 36, of Camberell Green, south London, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, converting criminal property, and acquisition of criminal property.
The fraudster kept a ‘suckers list’ of potential victims to send letters saying they had won the Australian Lottery, Mail Online reports.
He is believed to have received around £1million from the scam and blew the money on luxury cars, gold jewellery and expensive champagne at top nightclubs in London.
Godwin is believed to have been a ‘willing and enthusiastic lieutenant’ to another fraud mastermind, another Nigerian, Frank Onyechonam, who is nicknamed ‘Fizzy’ for his love of vintage champagne.
Onyeachonam was jailed eight years last year, after he was exposed as the mastermind in the scam.
He drove a Maserati and partied across exclusive private members clubs as he lived a life of fantastic luxury on his victim’s life savings.
The scam began began with a letter to a vulnerable pensioner congratulating them for winning the Australian Lottery.
The letters were supposedly sent by a 'lottery agent' targeted mostly at American pensioners informing them they had won the life-changing and requesting a modest sum to release the funds.
Victims were then hooked into paying fees to release their ‘winnings’ through an agent who would demand ‘activation fees’ to release their cash.
In some cases, dupes set up businesses in an attempt to receive their winnings and became unwitting money mules laundering cash from other victims.
Nwaofor, a father of two, regularly switched addresses to avoid being caught.
One victim, a 76-year-old woman, who believed she had won $1.85m, tried to track down Nwaofor after the FBI told her she had fallen victim to a scam.
She flew to the UK and went to the address she had for Nwaofor, but found that he had already moved on to another address.
Judge Richard Hone QC said the evidence in the case, at Central Criminal Court, against Nwaofor was ‘overwhelming’ and showed him to be a proven liar.
The Judge said:
“You have a tendency to be dishonest in your dealings with landlords, agencies, the police, HMRC, and car hire firms.
You also moved addresses regularly to ensure your whereabouts remained a mystery.”
Police identified a total of 406 victims from two notebooks found at Onyeachonam’s Canary Wharf penthouse at the time of his arrest.
Items seized included luxury items like Louis Vuitton shoes, Gucci handbags, a collection of expensive watches and dozens of designer shoes, as well as 5,000 pictures of Onyeachonam flaunting his wealth at exclusive upmarket venues including the Guvnor Bar in Docklands, east London.
One picture shows him showering a friend with champagne. Others show him posing with semi nude blondes or waves wads of £50 notes.
There was also evidence of extensive communication with Lagos resident Ese Orogun, nicknamed the ‘chairman’, who is thought to be the global mastermind of the fraud.
Ese is believed to live in a private gated community, as a ‘celebrity’ in the bustling city and drives multiple supercars, including a Maserati and a Porsche.
Detectives fear the scale of the fraud could even mushroom to £30million if all the details discovered in notebooks and emails can be traced to victims.
Nwaofor moved to the UK in January 2006 from Nigeria and soon married a German citizen.
He has two children with her, aged six and six-months-old.
He broke down in tears as he was jailed for seven years on Thursday morning, but the judge said he did not believe the remorse was genuine.
The Judge told him:
“Just as a crocodile sheds its tears while devouring its prey, so the copious weeping in court is not hypocritical remorse but tears of frustration that in spite of your careful concealment, you have been well and truly rumbled.
“This Australian lottery scam has brought penury and debt to your victims who were ruthlessly milked of their hard earned savings.”
The judge added that although ten victims were traced by prosecutors as having fallen for Nwaofor’s scam, that was probably the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
“Vast sums of cash you used to fund a luxury lifestyle, with top of the range hire cars, large watches, gold jewellery, expensive nightclubs’, said the judge.
It shows you made the best part of £1m yourself.”
He will serve half his sentence in prison and the remaining part on licence and will also now face confiscation proceeds.