Nigeria’s anti-graft agency may be turning the heat on cybercriminals to make the Internet a safer space following growing spate of arrests and prosecutions by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
While it is common knowledge that the use of computers and the Internet to commit crime, popularly called cybercrime, has become prevalent in Nigeria, recent focus on the activities of criminals in cyberspace suggests that efforts are in top swing to clean up the online space.
Technology Times review has revealed an increasing tempo of law enforcement activities that have led to an upswing in number of arrests and prosecution of cybercrimes, Internet and allied misdemeanour carried out using electronic means.
Cybercriminals use various methods to obtain valuables, especially money, from unsuspecting victims as has become apparent from EFCC arrests that have led to the arraignment of suspects.
[blockquote right=”pull-right”]“While it is common knowledge that the use of computers and the Internet to commit crime, popularly called cybercrime, has become prevalent in Nigeria, recent focus on the activities of criminals in cyberspace suggests that efforts are in top swing to clean up the online space.” [/blockquote]
According to Technology Times review of specific EFCC cybercrime battle, some of the underlisted cases chronicle some arraignments made and judgment received this year:
In February, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned one Prince Adekunle Ogunyale and Nelson Automobiles Nigeria Enterprise before Justice A. O Opesanwo of a Lagos High Court, sitting at Igbosere on a 4-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.
The defendants ran into trouble, when a petitioner alleged that they hacked into Rerwod Holding Nigeria Limited’s e-mail and defrauded Hyundai Heavy Industries Limited of the sum of $605,022.20 (Six Hundred and Five Thousand, Twenty Two Dollars, Twenty Cents). When the charges were read to the defendants, they pleaded not guilty.
In March, the anti-corruption agency arrested a suspected fraudster, Obiechina Chikeluba for allegedly swindling Kieran Oakes, a UK citizen, the sum of £54,000 (equivalent of N20m) in love scam.
Chikeluba, a 21-year-old student of Federal Science and Technical College Yaba, Lagos, met the victim on Facebook sometime in 2013. The suspect used the assumed profile of an American, Lisa Jackson, to enter into a relationship with Oakes, with the pair agreeing to get married.
On March 25, the EFCC arraigned one Dickson Simon Obasi and Frank Emmanuel Orngu before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi on a 3-count charge bordering on money laundering offences.
Dickson and Frank were arrested following a complaint from one Fatima Justina Agada and Samuel Abuwal that the duo conspired and fraudulently swap their “Automated Teller Machine”, ATM cards, in one of the old generation banks which they used to swindle them of several thousands of naira. The accused pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
On March 24, Justice Sabiu Yahuza of the Federal High Court, Dutse convicted and sentenced one Bello Dominic Oizamisi to one year imprisonment with hard labour on a one-count charge of obtaining by false pretence brought against him by the EFCC. Bello, a student of Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State allegedly fraudulently displayed a car for sale on the Internet, in which one Abdul-Azeez Abdul-Rahman eventually showed interest in buying.
In the course of negotiation, the convict allegedly demanded from Abdul-Rahman, the sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000.00) to be used for registration, auction papers and clearance of the car. The money was wired to him through his account in one of the new generation banks. After an endless wait for the car to be delivered, it dawned on the victim that he had been scammed. Hence, he petitioned the EFCC.
On April 20, EFCC arraigned one Stephen Omaidu before Justice M. A Nasir of Federal Capital Territory High Court siting in Jabi, Abuja on a two count charge bordering on theft to the tune of N68, 028, 000, 000.00 (sixty eight billion and twenty eight million naira).
Omaidu, in connivance with Alhaji K. B Kabiru, Godswill Oyegwa, Ben and Oliver (all at large) allegedly hacked into the server of a second generation bank and transferred the sum of sixty eight billion, and twenty eight million naira into different accounts for personal gains. He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.
Another cybercriminal bags 2 years jail term for Internet fraud
On April 23, Okwuka Olisaebuka Ifeanyi, an internet fraudster, whose modus operandi is to hack into people’s email to commit fraud was sentenced to two years imprisonment by Justice H.A Nganjiwa, of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State on a three count amended charge of forgery brought against him by the EFCC.
Ifeanyi’s journey to jail started on April 21, 2014 when he was arrested by operatives of the anti-graft agency with various forged fraudulent documents in his possession. The convict forfeited his laptop and phone, which he used in the fraudulent activities, to the Federal Government.
The EFCC, in May, arraigned a 19-year-old suspected internet fraudster, Ojosipe Adebayo, before Justice A.O Ipaye of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on a two-count-charge bordering on possession of a document containing false pretences and forgery. The defendant is allegedly a member of a syndicate of internet fraudsters that specialise in using fake cheques and scam mails to defraud unsuspecting victims. When the charges were read to the accused person, he pleaded not guilty.
On May 11, the EFCC arraigned Uchenna Nwako, Ejikeme Oluchukwu, Nnamani Ikechukwu, Ibeh kodili Martins and Nwako Victoria Ifeoma before Justice D.V Agishir of the Federal High Court, Enugu, on a 16-count charge bordering on intent to defraud and obtaining N26,338,000 by false pretence. The five accused persons were picked up by EFCC operatives on February 27, 2013 after intelligence reports indicated that they were involved in fraudulent activities bordering on cybercrime. They however, pleaded not guilty, when the charges were read to them.
The EFCC, on June 2, 2015 arraigned Friday Isodje before Justice U.N Agomoh of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on a 3-count charge bordering on conspiracy, impersonation, Internet fraud and obtaining money by false pretence. The accused was arrested sometime in 2013 alongside one Eloho Akarah following intelligence report on their lifestyles. The suspect was with a laptop computer containing scam mails. When the charge was read to the accused, he pleaded not guilty.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”EFCC”]“The convict (Idahor) was arrested by the EFCC sequel to a petition from NASA OIG Computer Crimes Division Goddard Space Flight Centre, United States, alleging that the suspect hacked into NASA e-mail account to send scam messages for advance fee fraud.” [/blockquote]
Justice S. S. Ogunsanya of the Lagos State High Court on June 11, 2015, sentenced one Osarenwinda Idahor (a.k.a Ösas Idahor) to two years imprisonment on each of the two count charge bordering on possession of document containing false pretence.
The convict was arrested by the EFCC sequel to a petition from NASA OIG Computer Crimes Division Goddard Space Flight Centre, United States, alleging that the suspect hacked into NASA e-mail account to send scam messages for advance fee fraud.
Further investigation by the EFCC revealed that the convict disguised himself to be one Mrs Carlow Charles, a cancer patient who wanted to donate the sum of $10,500,000 (Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars Only) to the motherless, widows and less privileged.
The convict upon arraignment on 25th day of May 2015 pleaded guilty to the charge.
Consequently, Justice Ogunsanya adjourned the case to June 11, 2015 for ruling and sentencing. When the matter was called June 11, Justice Ogunsanya sentenced the convict to two years imprisonment without any option of fine on each of the count charges. The sentences are to run concurrently.
A suspected fraudster, Emeofa Michael Ikechukwu, alias Michael Briggs, was on June 11 re-arraigned before Justice I.E Ekwo of theFederal High Court, Port Harcourt, Rivers State by the EFCC. The suspect, who had earlier been arraigned on March 10, 2015 before Justice H.A. Nganjiwa, is being prosecuted on a nine-count charge bordering on impersonation, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of over $127,000 Ikechukwu had allegedly obtained the money from his Swiss girlfriend, Misepasi, whom he met on a dating site in February 2013, after tricking her to invest in a phony timber business. However, the suspect pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.
In June, one Emmanuel Ikechukwu was docked before Justice Ekwo by the EFCC on an amended one count charge bordering on forgery. The accused allegedly hacked into his victims’ email and later contact their friends or associates for money. One of the victims, Innocent after receiving a mail from the accused, disguising to be a friend, deposited the sum of One Hundred and Fifty Five Thousand Naira (N155, 000.00) into his account with a new generation bank. The accused however entered a not- guilty plea, when the charge was read to him.
The EFCC, on June 15, arraigned Ebiechina Chikeluba (aka Lisa T. Jackson) before Justice O. A Ipaye of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja on a 17-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, personation, forgery and using false document.
Chikeluba who met his victim on Facebook using the false identity of, Lisa T. Jackson, a United States citizen, has been making monetary demands of his victims, using varies guises.
In one such instance in March 2013, he obtained a total sum of £54,324.59 (Fifty Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Twenty Four Pounds, Fifty Nine Pence) from one K. Oaks through Western Union on the pretext that he was an American woman dealing in Gold in Nigeria and needed money to increase her capital. The unsuspecting victim paid, having already agreed to marry the conman. When the charges were read to the defendant, he pleaded not guilty.
On June 24, the EFCC on July 24 arraigned six persons before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a 17 count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and forgery.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”EFCC”]“The operatives of the EFCC on August 6 arrested one Kato Ifrahimu Nyam and Godwin Odali, both staff of a new generation bank for conspiring to defraud the bank to the tune of N3.6bn (three billion, six million naira) with an e-payment mandate purportedly from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The suspects, who operate as syndicate, sometime in June 2015, through their cronies submitted an e-payment mandate of N1.4bn (one billion, four hundred million naira) to Zenith bank and Access bank Plc.” [/blockquote]