Ontario: resident loses money in Lottery scam


Staff member

Waterloo man lost $5,000 in Nigerian scam, court told

News Feb 20, 2018 by Gordon Paul Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — The balloons, champagne and huge cheque never arrived.

A Waterloo man fell victim to a Nigerian scam claiming he had won millions of dollars in a Publishers Clearing House lottery, court was told on Tuesday.

One of the men involved in the scam, Omorede Agbonifo, 40, pleaded guilty to fraud and will be sentenced next month.

In June 2015, the elderly victim received a letter allegedly from Publishers Clearing House announcing he had won $2.6 million. Another part of the letter said he won $5.6 million.

The letter provided a phone number. When the man called the number, which turned out to be in Nigeria, he was told he won $2.6 million and just needed to deposit $5,000 in a bank account to pay the taxes. He did and the money was withdrawn.

Then he waited for the Publishers Clearing House "Prize Patrol" to arrive with balloons, flowers, champagne and an oversized cheque.

When nothing showed up, he went to the police, who tracked the bank account to Agbonifo.

Agbonifo, a Nigerian refugee who came to Canada a year before the fraud, only got a small amount of the $5,000, defence lawyer Sean Safa said outside the courtroom. Two other Nigerian men got the lion's share, he said. Only Agbonifo was charged.

"He was a facilitator," Safa said.

Agbonifo, who attends college in Toronto and has no prior record, fears he will be deported. Safa said he hopes his client will have made full restitution by the time he is sentenced on March 23.

In 2013, Kitchener drug addict Kenneth Berry admitted tricking an 80-year-old woman in Oklahoma and a 93-year-old man in Washington into wiring him money with a promise of lottery winnings from Publishers Clearing House.

The victims were told by telephone that they had won $218,000 but needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes. Both victims lost $2,400.

Berry pleaded guilty to a slew of other charges and was sent to jail for 20 months.

"Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize," according to a blog at consumer.ftc.gov. "In fact, no legit prize promoter will ever charge you to win. Never send money to collect a prize. It's a scam."