Criminal Law

Yahoo boy jailed one year over $475k internet scam

An Ikeja Special Offences Court Thursday sentenced one Chinedu Omesu, to one year imprisonment for without an option of fine for a $475,000 internet scam, otherwise known as Yahoo Yahoo.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo convicted Omesu of defrauding an Asian-American woman, Soon Kim, of the sum of $475,000.
His conviction followed a plea bargain agreement with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Omesu, 23, was first arraigned on August 6, 2021 on an 11-count charge had in the course of the trial told the Court that he would want to enter a plea bargain rather than go the full hog of the trial.

However during resumed proceedings on Thursday EFCC prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that a plea bargain agreement had been reached with the convict.

Oyedepo informed the court that based on the plea bargain, a fresh three-count amended charge dated February 14, 2022 was filed against the convict, urging court to take his plea.

One of the counts reads: “Omesu Christian Chinedu, on or about the 31st day of March 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst holding yourself out as one Frederick Leo Ryan, a serving military operative of the United States with Finnish descent, dishonestly converted to your use the sum of $350,000 property of one Soon Kim.”
He pleaded “guilty” to the charges.

Following his guilty plea, Mr. Oyedepo, through the first prosecution witness, Saidu Abubakar, an operative of the EFCC, tendered in evidence the bank account statement of the defendant domiciled in Fidelity Bank, obtained by the EFCC from the bank.
There was no objection from the defence and it was admitted in evidence.

During the review of the review the facts of the case, the commission said that the evidence before the court showed that the defendant and his cronies that were arrested while lodging in James Court Hotel, Ikate, Lekki Phase 1 on the 21st of April 2021 were involved in cybercrime.

“He was arrested and items found on him included an iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 7+, Nokia TA iPhone 1004 and one iTel phone.

“Investigation also uncovered a Mercedes Benz ALG parked in his premises which as at the time worth thirty six million naira.

“Upon arrest, the digital devices recovered from him were subjected to forensic analysis wherein it was found that the defendant had in his possession various degrees of documents used as an intermediate step to defraud a woman known as Kim Soon.”

He listed other documents found on the convict to include an affidavit of proof of funds purportedly mailed by one Jackson Allen, of a Lagos High Court, Lagos, Nigeria wherein the purported Allen had averred that one Frederick Ryan Leo who was a purported United Nations staff claiming to have in his favour the sum of $7million.

He said: “Another document found on him was the one titled cheque withdrawal requirement purportedly emanating from Zenith Bank Nigeria Plc, which document was used to create an impression that the aforementioned sum of $7million has been confirmed by the Zenith Bank of Nigeria along other documents listed in the plea bargain agreement.
“These documents were found to be false and through the various false pretences contained, the victim of the offence lost about $475,000 to the defendant between February to April 2021.
“Our partner Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US interviewed the victim, and the findings show that the victim believed the various representation made to her by the defendant and parted with the $475,000.”
He said it was in the course of the trial that the defendant opted to change his plea.”
Oyedepo therefore urged the court to “convict him as charged”, following his guilty plea and items recovered from him to be forfeited to the federal government.

Thereafter, Justice Taiwo convicted him as charged and ordered him to make restitution to the victim.
Following his allocutus, Justice Taiwo sentenced him to one year imprisonment beginning from January 1, 2022, when he was arrested.

As part of restitution to the victim, the court further ordered the convict to hand hand over a Lexus SUV to the prosecution within 60 days and a the sum of N8.5 million being part of the proceeds of the crime in the custody of his father.

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