Love Scam: Court Gives Convict One Year in Prison or N500,000 Fine Option

Funke Olaode

A Special Offences Court in Ikeja has sentenced a man, Emeka Ojugbeh, to one year imprisonment for fraudulently representing himself as a White man online and defrauding the members of the public.

Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe, on Wednesday, gave Ojugbeh an option of payment of N500,000 with 50 hours of community service.

The judge sentenced Ojugbeh after he pleaded guilty to a count charge of being in possession of a fraudulent document containing false pretence. The offence is contrary to Section 320 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abubakar Dambuwa, told the court that the defendant had, sometime in August 2023, falsely represented himself as a White man online, an identity he conducted multiple deals with.

Dambuwa told the court that the defendant benefited $2,000 from his victims.

He told the court that operatives of the EFCC received credible intelligence of an account engaged in cybercrime which led operatives to arrest Ojugbeh.

The prosecutor said Ojugbeh had an iPhone 12 Pro Max and an HP EliteBook Laptop in his possession upon his arrest.

Dambuwa said: “When the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Laptop that were owned by the defendant, the EFCC discovered several fraudulent documents in Google email addresses named after the White man he represented himself as.”

He said the EFCC printed out the fraudulent documents found in the email addresses after which the defendant volunteered a confessional statement while in custody.

Dambuwa told the court that the defendant had applied for a plea bargain and ‘restituted’ N500,000 to the EFCC in two tranches of N250,000.

Dambuwa presented the judge with the defendant’s extrajudicial statement, the bundle of fraudulent documents printed from Gmail addresses, two managers cheques, the iPhone 12 Pro max and the HP EliteBook Laptop and asked that they be entered into evidence, which Abike-Fadipe did.

The defence counsel, Bimbo Adebayo-Ogunlaja, did not object to the prosecution counsel’s application to tender the materials in evidence.

The EFCC counsel asked the judge to convict the defendant and order that he forfeit the iPhone 12 Pro Max phone and HP EliteBook Laptop that was recovered from him to the federal government.

The judge, Abike-Fadipe, questioned Ojugbeh on his offence and after she was satisfied that he understood the guilty plea he took, convicted him of possessing documents containing false pretence, contrary to Section 320 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.

She asked the convict what he had to say after his conviction, and he apologised to the court.

The convict, Ojugbeh, said: “I am very sorry that I chose this path. I promise to never go back.”

In the allocutus by the defence counsel, Adebayo-Ogunlaja, she told the court to temper justice with mercy and consider that the convict pleaded guilty without wasting the time of the court.

Abike-Fadipe sentenced the convict to one-year imprisonment with an option of 500, 000 fine plus 50 hours of community service.

She said: “Should the convict choose community service, the correctional services shall report his progress to the court.”

“On any day he misses the hour of community service, he shall serve out the remainder of the time in a custodial centre,” she added.

The judge said the convict would also forfeit his iPhone 12 Pro Max phone and HP EliteBook Laptop which he used to commit the crime to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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