Ovo Mayomi and his wife Juliet Ubiribo were convicted of fraud in 2010 after using an identity and immigration scam to falsely claim £43,000 in benefits.
Mayomi, 44, claimed he was earning £700 a month and was living in Croydon, south London, while his wife, 32, claimed benefits after telling benefit bosses she was a single mother and a victim of domestic violence.
But fraud investigators found Mayomi and his wife were actually living in a large luxurious house in Lekki near the Nigerian city Lagos worth more than £1million complete with chandeliers and £89,000 worth of sound equipment. He also had a £25,000 watch. His wife wore a Rolex watch and drove a Mercedes Sport Coupi.
Now a judge has ordered Mayomi to pay £1,197,743.54 in a confiscation order under the Proceeds Of Crime Act, or go to prison for six years.
As well as two money-transferring businesses and bank accounts, investigators also discovered Mayomi owned a fish farm in the country.
The couple's benefit scam unravelled when a visa application by Mayomi showed they had married a year earlier and that Ubiribo had a job in order to support him. For more click on read more
On Friday, Judge Nicholas Ainley ruled that Mayomi must pay £1,197,743.54 by 14 March next year. It is one of the largest confiscation orders carried out by a council.
Failure to do so will see him sent to prison for six years, during which time interest will accumulate on his debt, which will remain due following his release.
At a hearing in July, a confiscation order was made against Ubiribo for £9,357.42 to be paid by 19 October or face five months in prison.
'This is a landmark case for Croydon as it is the first time the council’s in-house financial investigator has pursued a major confiscation order of this nature.'
Croydon councillor Dudley Mead
Councillor Dudley Mead, deputy leader of the council, said: 'This is a landmark case for Croydon as it is the first time the council’s in-house financial investigator has pursued a major confiscation order of this nature.
'Usually these cases are dealt with by the police rather than local authorities. It is rare for councils to have their own in-house investigator, so it is to the anti-fraud team’s immense credit that it is pioneering the way forward in reclaiming the proceeds of crime.
'As a result of our investigator’s fine work, the council expects to be able to claw back as much as £400,000 in taxpayers’ money.
'This case should serve as a clear warning that crime does not pay. Croydon Council will always prosecute in fraud cases and seek to recover money or assets wherever they are.
'This is to protect decent taxpayers from having to pay more.'