A BRITISH man who fell victim to a Spanish lottery scam has been jailed after he in turn defrauded his friends.
Chartered surveyor Arthur Stimpson has been handed a four-and-a-half year stretch after becoming ‘brainwashed’ by greed, a court heard.
Stimpson, 56, was found guilty of 13 counts of fraud and two counts of forgery after he cheated his friends out of more than 1.5 million euros to claim bogus lottery ‘winnings’.
Norwich Crown Court heard how the father-of-two received an email in July 2007 informing him that he had won 3.3 million euros on the Spanish lotto.
Incredibly, while most people would have smelt a rat, the surveyor was talked into sending 50,000 euros of his own money to a Spanish bank account to ‘claim’ his alleged winnings.
And this unfortunately wasn’t the end, after the Spanish-based fraudsters told him more money was needed in order to release the winnings.
Completely taken in, the surveyor then relied on his good reputation – and a promise of up to 500 per cent returns – to borrow money from childhood friends, a former neighbour and the godparents
of his children.
His behaviour led to the loss of the life-savings of some 13 victims in the process.
He even kept his wife Emma, 49, in the dark, as he forged her signature in a bid to raise money and get his hands on the elusive jackpot.
On Christmas Eve 2009 – despite having been warned by police that he had fallen victim to a scam – Stimpson handed over 100,000 euros of cash in a plastic bag to two men at the top of his driveway.
He was eventually declared bankrupt last year and was forced to sell his family home allowing him to repay just 300,000 euros to his creditors.
When arrested Stimpson said he had become “brainwashed by the lure of money” and on reflection could see how ‘ludicrous’ it was.
His lawyer insisted, ‘he feels nothing but remorse’.
According to the Judge mystery still surrounds where much of the money has gone.
Norfolk inspector Jim Hardy warned the public: “If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.”