An Ikeja Special Offences Court in Lagos State on Wednesday sentenced an unemployed man, Lawal Sholaru, to six months imprison for defrauding an American, Mr David Geobel, of $1200 (N466,212) through the Internet.
Sholaru had at his arraignment on March 18 pleaded guilty to a charge of obtaining money by false pretence proffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The defendant was remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre, after his arraignment and the scheduled delivery of the judgment was delayed due to the lockdown occasioned by outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Delivering the judgment online during a virtual proceeding, Justice Mojisola Dada said that Sholaru was convicted following his admission of guilt, but granted him an option of N100,000 fine in lieu of term in jail.
“The timeous plea of guilty of the defendant is very impressive and commendable, he has exhibited great remorse for his action.
“He has also unwittingly spent about two months in custody. In the interest of justice, the defendant is hereby sentenced to six months imprisonment.
“The sentence is to commence from March 18, 2020 when he was first remanded in custody or an option of a fine of N100,000 in lieu of his prison term,” the judge said.
Justice Dada ordered that the defendant shall forfeit his vehicle and any other property recovered from him by the EFCC to the Federal Government as proceeds of crime.
“He shall undertake to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any other crime. This is the judgment of the court,” she said.
Following the judgment, the defence counsel Mr Kunle Aina, thanked the court.
Earlier during the proceedings, the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Samuel Daji gave a brief summary of the facts of the case.
“Based on intelligence received by the Commission, the defendant was arrested on March 8, 2020 at Lakers Club, Ikorodu, Lagos State, on suspicion of engaging in internet fraud.
“The defendant made a confessional statement where he admitted that he defrauded a US citizen, one Mr David Geobel, to the tune of $1,200.
“He also admitted to representing himself as one Alicia White.
Further investigations were carried out on the defendants email address and fraudulent documents where the defendant represented himself as an American General were uncovered,” he said.
The EFCC prosecutor, to strengthen the anti-graft agency’s case, tendered to the court the defendant’s confessional statements dated March 8 and March 11, as well as the alleged fraudulent documents found in Sholaru’s possession.
“Investigations revealed that the defendant had no other source of livelihood other than internet fraud and his car was bought from the proceeds of crime,” Daji said.