The Nigerian scammer dubbed ‘Fizzy’ when he swindled retirees with a fake lottery out of their savings to fund his champagne lifestyle, still hasn’t paid his victims a penny eight years later
A Nigerian lottery fraudster, nicknamed ‘Fizzy’ for his love of vintage champagne, has not paid back the £5 million he stole from pensioners nearly a decade ago.
Frank Onyeachonam, 49, was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2014 after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to defraud following a three-week trial against Old Bailey.
The father of two defrauded hundreds of vulnerable pensioners who believed they had won the Australian lottery after receiving a fake letter.
Primarily aimed at American retirees, the letters were sent by a “lottery agent” who told them that they had won a life-changing prize and that they should send a modest amount of money to clear the money.
Believing they were lucky, the victims were addicted to paying fees to release their “winnings” through an agent who would charge “activation fees” to release their funds.
Nigerian Frank Onyeachonam, 49, drove a Maserati and fired bubble caps at exclusive private clubs as he lived a life of fabulous luxury
Father-of-two cheated mostly elderly American victims out of hundreds and thousands of pounds using ‘advance-free’ fraud scheme
Onyeachonam was nicknamed ‘Fizzy’ because of his love of vintage champagne
In some cases, victims set up businesses in an attempt to receive their profits and became unwitting money mules who laundered money from other victims.
After being jailed in 2014, Onyeachonam, formerly of East London’s Canning Town, was ordered to repay just £158,000 in June 2015 in terms of his recoverable assets.
Judge Alexia Durran said there was now an application from Onyeachonam’s lawyer Stephen Earnshaw to change the amount under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Mr Earnshaw said, ‘As of September 2015, Mr Onyeachonam had to pay that amount from the only asset in Nigeria.
The property has not been sold and the full amount remains outstanding. The property was not seized. The CPS and NCA and those involved in the implementation in Nigeria attempted to secure the asset’s execution.”
Onyeachonam remains subject to UK immigration bail conditions and cannot leave the country.
Mr Earnshaw told the court: ‘Mr Onyeachonam’s preconception is that until that money is realised, there are limits to what he can do to leave this country and work in this country.’
The 49-year-old owned a collection of luxury watches and designer shoes
Onyeachonam’s nickname ‘Fizzy’ shown in banknotes
Pictured is a property in Nigeria owned by Onyeachonam who was jailed for eight years in 2014
Judge Durran said: ‘The request for the court is to determine that the property is impossible to realize and to remove that as an asset.
“I googled the Nigerian legal system and it doesn’t seem as digital as ours. The test is a determination of whether the asset is impossible to realise. If this is not possible, the confiscation order may be amended.
“We are waiting for the Nigerian authority to respond or process the application. I am not satisfied it is not yet realizable. These things take time. The challenges of the Nigerian system, the lack of IT, paperwork can be placed in the wrong folder or drawer, files can be lost and so on.
“The case officer and those before him will continue to send documentation and it seems wrong to me at this stage to say that the assets are impossible to realise.
“I’m afraid the warrant remains in effect.”
Onyeachonam was originally convicted of conspiracy to defraud between January 2005 and December 2012 and received eight years in prison.
He had been ordered to repay £158,149 or face a further three years in prison, but the amount has yet to be paid.