Man wanted by South Yorkshire Police is 'Lottery Liar'

A man wanted by South Yorkshire Police over high value romance frauds was once jailed for posing as a multi-millionaire Lottery winner.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 11:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 6:51 pm
John Eric Wells
John Eric Wells

Earlier this month, South Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information on the whereabouts of John Eric Wells, 61, who is believed to hold vital information about three romance frauds, where victims lost more than £400,000.

The offences are alleged to have taken place from September 2014 onwards in Doncaster, Sussex and London.

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Officers searching for Wells believe he may be abroad.

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It has since emerged that Wells, also known as Howard Walmsley and Howard Hemmings, was jailed for three years in 2001 for posing as a Lottery winner to save his marriage and con victims out of cash.

The Doncaster decorator was jailed for 13 offences of deception, which included conning one woman out of £8,000 by making her believe he was about to move in with her.

In all, he cost his victims a total of £53,000 and his case inspired the film ITV film ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ in 2004, which starred Martin Kemp and Michelle Collins.

He conned banks, a solicitor, an architect, a car firm, and two women friends.

Judge Jane Shipley, who jailed him at Sheffield Crown Court, told him he lived in a ‘fantasy world’.

She added: “You wanted to aspire to the high life and appear successful, but you seem to lack what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur."

The court heard Walmsley and his wife, Kath, reconciled just before Christmas 1999 after a split.

Walmsley then embarked on his charade – initially posing as a £4 million Lottery winner.

He ordered a fleet of Jaguar cars and employed an architect to draw up plans for an extension - including a swimming pool, granny flat and garages.

By the time Walmsley was arrested at his home in Intake, Doncaster, in April 1999, he was claiming to have scooped £8.4 million on the Lottery.Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call South Yorkshire Police on 101.