A conman who duped victims into handing over almost £800,000 has been jailed after a six year-long police investigation.
Patrick Bomboi Emuh, 54, contacted 20 people to tell them they had won the lottery or inherited thousands of pounds.
Then he charged them money for his help in claiming the non-existent sums. Victims shelled out for advance fees, taxes and handling charges. In some cases, they were contacted by a "lawyer" who charged them for aiding their claim.
Emuh's criminal activities stretched around the world, with people falling for the scam in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Romania, Chile and Germany, as well as Britain.
Some even travelled to the UK to collect their windfall, to be met by people posing as businessmen in the deal. To make the scam more convincing, bank notes were produced which had been tampered with.
Police began probing Emuh's activities after finding him holding £10,000. After that, an inquiry was launched into his bank accounts, revealing large sums of cash deposited in them.
Emuh, of Greenwich in London, denied ripping off victims, after police succeeded in contacting a selection, who all told the same tale of their experience with the fraudster. When officers first confronted him with the evidence, Emuh even claimed he was a Nigerian oil baron.
At Southwark Crown Court, he was jailed for six years for 19 counts under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Investigator Doug Ferns said: "We are determined to continue uncovering scams like this and seeing that the perpetrators receive the kind of sentence that Emuh has.
"If a stranger contacts you saying you have inherited money or won a lottery, and must pay fees to access your windfall, do not believe it. Call the police."
Police created a website on how to avoid falling for scams. For more information, visit: www.actionfraud.police.uk.