A Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting at the Ikeja division of the Lagos State High Court on Tuesday sentenced one Abraham Sunday to one-year imprisonment with an option of a fine of N100,000 for internet fraud.
Mr Sunday was arraigned on a two-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence and being in possession of fraudulent documents.
The trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, issued the sentence after the defendant pleaded guilty to the charges.
She said that since the accused had been in custody for two months after he was arrested, his sentence should start from the day he was first remanded in prison. She also provided an option of a fine of N100,000.
In his statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Sunday admitted that sometime in 2017, he defrauded one Marlene he met on a social media network, Interpal, using the alias Raymond Dondmond while claiming to be an American citizen who deals in the exportation of solid minerals. He explained how he duped his victim.
”I communicated to (with) Marlene through Whatsapp with a white man’s picture on my DP. Marlene has sent me $300 and $280 to support me when I told her I was stuck in Nigeria.”
“When I met her online, I told her that I like her and would love to have a relationship with her which she agreed to. I told her I’m an American citizen and that I live in Texas which she believed because of the white man’s picture on my DP.
“I told Marlene that she will be helping me to send money through Western Union to Nigeria from my clients in the U.S. I told her the money is to get some samples of solid minerals in Nigeria which she believed.
“After a while, I told her to send me money from her account on a matter of urgency and that I will return it when my clients in the U.S. pay me.”
Earlier in the proceeding, Mr Sunday’s counsel, Z. S. Makinde, informed the court that the defendant had exploited the opportunity of plea bargain and the defendant was subsequently re-arraigned on two counts of obtaining money by false pretence and possession of fraudulent documents which he pleaded guilty to.
The prosecuting counsel, Bikisu Buhari, urged the court to give judgement accordingly.
Mr Makinde, however, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that the defendant is ”now a repentant law-abiding citizen”.
“My Lord, the defendant is a first-time offender and we urged your lordship to show him mercy. Since his arrest in 2017, he has learnt how to do Plaster of Paris (POP) for buildings and is now a totally changed person who now understands that internet fraud is wrong and immoral. He has vowed never to do such again and he is sober. I will be asking that the court make his sentence run from the time of his arrest in 2017.”
The judge denied the plea of the defendant to allow the sentence run from the date of his arrest and instead gave an option of fine.
“I have carefully considered the defendant’s allocutus. However, the court is considering the rampancy of this crime among young men but judgement must be given in order to send a message to other young men out there. I order him to pay the sum of N100,000 or one-year imprisonment. He should be released immediately after the fine is paid.”