A chartered surveyor who was ‘brainwashed’ by an email scam into believing he had won £2.7million on a Spanish lottery has been jailed for fraud.

Arthur Stimpson, who was seen as a pillar of his community, handed over £50,000 of his own money to conmen who claimed it was needed to release the massive windfall.

When his own money ran out, Stimpson, 56, fooled those closest to him into handing over more than £1.1million in his increasingly desperate bid to get his hands on the jackpot.

In all, 13 people handed over their life-savings, encouraged by Stimpson’s spotless reputation and the promise of 500 per cent returns.

His victims included the father of one of his godchildren, an investment manager, and even his wife, Emma, 49, whose name he forged on documents.

The married father of two was jailed for four years after admitting 13 counts of fraud and two of forgery at Norwich Crown Court this week.

He was declared bankrupt last year and was forced to sell the luxurious family home, a former rectory in Suffield, Norfolk, for £1.25million, but even this allowed him to repay just £280,000 to his creditors, leaving them £874,000 out of pocket.

Stimpson first received an email in July 2007 claiming he had won the Spanish lottery. Even though it is not clear whether he had even bought any ticket for a Spanish lottery, he tried to claim the phantom prize.

He was repeatedly told to pay huge sums of money into foreign bank accounts and shadowy figures.

On Christmas Eve 2009, by which stage his bank and the police had become suspicious, he put £75,000 cash in a plastic bag and handed it to some men at the end of his driveway.

When Stimpson was finally arrested, he told police he had become ‘brainwashed by the lure of money’ and on reflection could see how ludicrous it was.

Judge Peter Jacobs said mystery still surrounded where much of the money had gone. He said Stimpson had committed ‘wholesale deception’ on his friends.

Jim Hardy, a financial investigator for Norfolk Police, warned afterwards: “Stimpson was not stupid by any means. He was a chartered surveyor but got taken in.”

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