Posted by News Express | 27 September 2019 | 1,352 times
Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, on Thursday, September 26, 2019, convicted and sentenced six Facebook hackers to one year imprisonment each, with an option of fine of N500,000.
The convicts are Lawrence Nnamdi-Mba Ebesike, Prince E. Udeh, Chijioke Victor, Promise Odimba, Ugbor Ifeanyi and Prince Anthony.
They were arraigned the previous day on separate one-count charge bordering on impersonation and fraud, before the same court and they all pleaded “guilty”.
In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Usman Shehu, informed the court of the plea bargain agreements entered and executed by the prosecution and the defence.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to yesterday for conviction and sentence while the convicts were remanded in Afokang prison, Calabar.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, Justice Amobeda convicted all the defendants and sentenced each to one year imprisonment, with the option of N500,000 fine. He ordered that the convict “shall forfeit all the items recovered during arrest”.
The items are 6 laptops, 12 sophisticated mobile phones, 1 International Passport, 4 Airtel SIM Packs, 3 MTN SIM Packs, 2 Glo SIM Packs,1 Smile Router and 2 Modems.
A statement today by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said: “The convicts ran into troubles on September 2, 2019, when operatives of Uyo Zonal Office of the EFCC arrested them in a two-bedroom apartment located on 54 Church Road, off Calabar Itu Express Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, following an intelligence report on their nefarious activities in the town.
“During interrogation, the suspects said the apartment which served as their home and office, was rented by the kingpin, Ebesike, for the purpose of training Facebook hackers.
“Confessing to the crime, Ebesike, who claimed to be a musician with the stage name ‘Lawre Blue’, gave a detailed account of how they carried out their operations on Facebook.”
Ebesike was quoted as saying: “I am into internet fraud. Part of how I operate is, I edit Facebook accounts, go to Google and search for pictures of United State military personnel. I download some of these pictures and put them on the newly created Facebook accounts. After doing that, I target foreigners, mostly old white women who are in need of men. I stay online all day trying to befriend them. After convincing them, I will make them apply for my leave so that I can see them,” Ebesike confessed.
One of the charges reads: “That you Ebesike Lawrence Nnamdi ‘m’ on or about the 11th day of July, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did fraudulently impersonate one Cheng Chin Kiu, a purported United Nations Army personnel, to one Chunn Kang who resides in United States with intent to obtain money from the said Chunn Kang, a pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (ii) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition and Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.”
Another charge reads: “That you Enyinnaya Prince Udeh (alias Palacio Olivia) ‘m’ on or about the 30th day of August, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did fraudulently impersonate one Palacio Olivia with intent to obtain money, property or any advantage from unsuspecting victims, the pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (ii) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (iv) of the same Act.”
In a related development, three persons were yesterday, Thursday, found guilty of criminal impersonation by the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State, and sentenced to prison terms.
The trio – Augustine Ekeson, Obinna Ureahi Ifeanyi and Osho Olalekan Micheal – were convicted in cases filed against them by the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC.
Justice Patricia Ajoku, after considering the facts of an amended one-count charge against Obinna and Ifeanyi, pronounced them guilty and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each.
The duo had earlier been arraigned on a three-count charge based on the allegations raised against them in a petition received from one Mobolade Dele Akinbuluma, a doctoral student of the University of Ibadan.
Akinbuluma alleged that the accused hacked into her email account to misrepresent themselves as staff of a Kenyan university where she was to undertake a study as part of her doctorate programme. She was, in the process, defrauded of N875,490.
The duo pleaded not-guilty to the charge, but later approached EFCC for a plea bargain.
Following an agreement on the terms of the plea bargain, they were re-arraigned on Thursday on a one-count amended charge.
The latest charge reads: “That you Augustine Ekeson M and Obinna Ureahl Ifeanyi on or about the 3rd of December 2015 at Ibadan within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire amongst yourself to commit felony to wit: fraudulently impersonated one Mrs. Lillian Igweta, a secretary to Professor Torto, with intent to gain advantage for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27 (1) (b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22(4) of the same Act.”
They pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting a prayer by the EFCC counsel, Ifeanyi Agwu, for their conviction.
The presiding judge accordingly sentenced them to two years imprisonment each.
Meanwhile, Justice Joyce Abdulmalik, equally of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, also jailed Osho on Thursday for an internet-related offence.
Osho was found guilty of falsely representing himself to be an American citizen named Jack, using same to defraud one Maria.
He was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to make restitution of $200 to his victim. The jail term takes effect from April 3, 2019, day he was arrested.
He is also to forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria items recovered from him in the course of investigation.
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