The Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday secured the conviction of 14 internet fraudsters on separate one count charge before Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State.
The convicts are: Victor Chikeluba Ogadibo, Unwana Aniefiok Edem, Michael Omos, Emediong Iwoenang, Christian Alvan Okechukwu, Ogbuechi Anderson Ifeanyi and Anozie Chinonso Franklin.
Others are: Clinton Njoku Onyekachi, Princewill Chisom Egerue, Akpodiete Moses, Innocent Samuel Japhet, Ugwuegbu Fredrick Ikenna, Ndulaka Felix Chukwuebuka and Opara Ozioma Daniel.
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.”
They pleaded guilty to the charges preferred against them.
Delivering judgment, Justice Amobeda 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, $3000 and $200 respectively to their victims through the prosecution.
Princewill and Moses were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment each with an option of fine of N700,000, 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.
Also, the convicts are to forfeit instruments used to commit the crime, which included their phones, HP laptops, 1 HP Probook and cars to the Federal Government.
While Iwoenang, Okechukwu, Edem and Innocent were arrested in 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 specialised 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.