A Nigerian who returned to Britain after being deported has been jailed for his role in a £2.7million lottery scam.
Osas Odia, 33, was booted out of the UK in 2005 after immigration officials discovered he was using a forged stamp in his passport to work.
However, the management graduate was allowed to return on a marriage visa after marrying a British nurse.
Upon returning he joined a group of Nigerian fraudsters who sent thousands of letters to people across the world telling them they had won millions on the lottery.
The scam letters told readers they would have to send money to ‘unlock’ their huge windfall.
One victim, Betty McClellan, 62, wired £264,000 to the fraudsters to release her ‘lottery win’.
When it never arrived, Mrs McClellan was shot dead by her husband Hersey McClellan, 63, in their Los Angeles home in 2010. He then turned the gun on himself.
Meanwhile an elderly woman living in Bristol lost £312,000 after she wrongly believed she had won £1.8million on the Australian lottery.
Prosecutor Andrew Evans said the loss of the money had a devastating impact on the Bristol woman.
‘She was buying a new home and intended to settle the balance from the winnings she was expecting,’ he told Croydon Crown Court.
‘She is now living in sheltered accommodation and feels vulnerable and extremely embarrassed and her family have lost their inheritance.’
The victims included a farmer from Indiana who lost £339,000 in the hope of winning £14.9million and a Venezuelan businessman who lost £163,000.
Police identified 13 victims worldwide, who each lost an average of £207,000, after they became convinced they were due huge pay-outs.
Odia’s role in the conspiracy was to launder some of the money which was sent by the victims through three bank accounts in his name.
The Nigerian pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder criminal property and was jailed for two years on Friday.
Odia, of Erith, south London, had been allowed to finish his degree before he was sentenced.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC told him: ‘You are a man of some ability and you have just completed a degree and I hope that means you will not be tempted to return to this sort of offending.
‘You played a full part in laundering the proceeds of a sophisticated fraud.’
His lawyer Paul Brill said: ‘He is alarmed and upset by the nature of the fraud and did not realise people’s life savings were being taken so callously in the way they were.
‘His previous conviction was for a false stamp in his passport that allowed him to work. He is not workshy and has a strong work ethic.’
It is understood that Odia will be allowed to stay in Britain when he is released because of his marital status.
The plot’s ringleaders, who spent the money on property, were jailed at an earlier hearing for conspiracy to defraud.
Obinnam Nwokolo, 37, of Erith, was jailed for six years and four months and student Uchechhukwu Onuoha, 40, also of Erith, was jailed for five years and two months.
Another money launderer, Sergius Ene, 44, of Ilford, was jailed for 16 months.
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