The Federal High Court in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has sentenced 14 internet fraudsters to jail, having pleaded guilty to various charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
The head, media and publicity of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, made this known on Tuesday in a statement, naming the convicts as Victor Chikeluba Ogadibo, Unwana Aniefiok Edem, Michael Omos, Emediong Iwoenang, Christian Alvan Okechukwu, and Anozie Chinonso Franklin.
The others are; Clinton Njoku Onyekachi, Princewill Chisom Egerue, Akpodiete Moses, Innocent Samuel Japhet, Ugwuegbu Fredrick Ikenna, Ndulaka Felix Chukwuebuka, Opara Ozioma Daniel, and Ogbuechi Anderson Ifeanyi
“One of the separate count charges reads: ‘That you Clinton Njoku Onyekachi (A.K.A Casey Nelson Cooper) on or about the 8th day of August 2020 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to obtain property and gain advantage for yourself, fraudulently impersonated Casey Nelson Cooper (An American soldier) on social media (Instagram) and defrauded Veronica (An Indonesian) in the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2000) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (3) (a) & (b) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (b) (iv) of the same Act.”
The judge, Justice Simeon Amobeda, while delivering judgment, convicted and sentenced the defendants as follows; Unwana, Fredrick, and Franklin were sentenced to six months imprisonment, each with an option of fine of N500,000; while Clinton, Anderson, Victor, Felix, and Opara bagged six months imprisonment each with an option of fine of N200,000.
The court further ordered that Clinton, Victor and Anderson restitute the sum of $2,000 and $3,000 and $200 respectively to their victims through the prosecution, while Princewill and Moses were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment each with an option of fine of N700,000.
The judge also ordered that while Christian, Michael and Innocent were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment each with an option of fine of N1 million, Emediong bagged three months imprisonment with an option of fine of N100,000.
The court also ordered that, the convicts are to forfeit instruments used to commit the crime which include their phones, HP laptops, one HP Probook and cars to the federal government.
The commission said, while Iwoenang, Okechukwu, Edem, and Innocent were arrested at their apartment located at 3 Ring Road, off Shelter Afrique, Uyo on September 9, 2020, others were nabbed during a three-hour raid on September 8, 2020, at Sight and Services within World Bank in Ugwuma town and Road Safety by Toronto Road, Owerri North, Imo State.
“They were arrested based on intelligence. Upon arrest, the 14 convicts admitted to the crime and made confessional statements. Forensic analysis of their phones and laptops revealed that while some of them specialized in love scam, others impersonated United States military personnel purportedly on foreign mission and needed financial help as they could not access their funds. They made their victims give them gift cards, which they changed to bitcoin and then to naira,” Uwujaren said.