Fake EFCC Sentenced To Prison Over €45000 Fraud
In a well-planned online scam, Ume Ifechukwu Clinton defrauded a Belgian educator and caregiver, Axelle Mahieu, of €45000 (about N21.6 million) in cryptocurrency.
Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos convicted Clinton on May 3, 2023, and sentenced him to one year in prison.
Clinton, aged 30, was arraigned on February 22, 2023, on an amended three-count charge bordering on possession of fraudulent documents and impersonation.
He had approached the prosecution for a plea bargain due to the overwhelming evidence gathered against him, leading to the amended charge.
He pleaded guilty to all the charges which Damilare Adeosun, an investigative officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), testified against him.
Adeosun narrated how the EFCC acted on an intelligence report from the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, which indicated that Clinton disguised himself as an EFCC officer to defraud the Belgian.
According to Adeosun, Clinton presented himself as an EFCC staff and introduced Mahieu to a non-existent cryptocurrency investment, while assuring her that she was in safe hands.
He also deceived her with a fake EFCC ID card, which Mahieu believed to be genuine.
Clinton went into hiding, and investigators had to use tech to locate him on October 18, 2022, at No 46 Atoke Gbadebo Street, Isheri, Lagos.
During his arrest, the fake ID card, several expensive wristwatches, and N150,000 in cash were recovered from him.
Clinton admitted that he made the forged ID card in Owerri, with just N3,000, to gain Mahieu’s trust.
He later transferred the money received from Mahieu through cryptocurrency to his Binance account and exchanged it through peer-to-peer (p2p), crediting it in Naira to his bank accounts in Nigeria.
He spent all the money on expensive watches, a piece of land for clubbing, and sharing with friends.
However, he never used any for the €45000 for cryptocurrency investment, as he promised his victim.
The prosecution tendered in evidence the intelligence report, correspondences between the EFCC and the various banks where Clinton transferred the money, fraudulent documents from his email and WhatsApp conversations with his victim, correspondence with the EFCC’s Human Resources Department at the EFCC Headquarters Abuja, confirming that the said ID card was fake, the search warrant, and the statements made by the defendant under interrogation.
All these documents were admitted as exhibits against the defendant.
In her ruling, Justice Dada declared Clinton guilty as charged, and his counsel, Adenike Goncalves, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy and to give the convict a second chance.
Justice Dada, thereafter, sentenced Clinton to one year in prison and ordered him to restitute the €45000 to the victim within three months.
She also ordered the forfeiture and sale of items recovered from him as part of restitution to the victim.
Additionally, Clinton was ordered to enter into a bond with the EFCC, upon his release, that he would never engage in criminal activity within or outside the country.
He was given an option of a fine of N500,000, in lieu of his prison term, “in view of his obvious remorse, timeous plea, and the passionate plea of his counsel.”