Court sentences internet fraudster to 600 hours of community service

Judge Abimbola Awogboro of a Federal High Court in Lagos sentenced an internet fraudster, James Victory Eshiobonameh, to 600 hours of community service.

The judge delivered the verdict after Eshiobonameh confessed to a fraudulent act charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The convict, also known as James Victory and Pablo, was accused of impersonating James Victory, posting him on his Instagram profile and using him to defraud unsuspecting service providers. Following Eshiobonameh’s guilty plea, an EFCC investigator, Buluebre karamor, was called to testify in the case for a review of the facts.

Reviewing the facts of the case, the investigator told the court that the convict was arrested during an award ceremony held by some fraudsters, who were celebrating their successful operations. She said that during his arrest and questioning, the convict admitted to being a member of an internet fraud group that specializes in creating fraudulent Facebook accounts.

The investigator further recounted how the convict joined a website known as ‘aus. com’, which provides services to families around the world. The court also heard how the convict posed as an old man living in Texas (USA) who needed help.

The EFCC investigator further told the court that when the convict’s iPhone 9 was scanned, his son had a US number, +1 8573084630, which he used to register on ‘aus.com ‘, to contact his unsuspecting service providers to further reinforce his claims that he lives in Texas, USA. At the end of the investigator’s evidence, the convict’s iPhone 9, the out-of-court statement and some documents extracted from the phone were introduced and admitted as exhibits by the court. The EFCC lawyer, Ms Bilikisu Buhari-Bala, therefore urged the court to convict the convict in accordance with Section 22(2)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2019 .).

Prior to the convict’s sentencing, his lawyer, O. Amubikaun, pleaded with the court to falsify justice with mercy in his verdict, claiming that he was a first offender. Amubikaun told the court that the convict had been remorseful since his arrest in November 2021 and learned of his mistake the hard way. After listening to the lawyer’s argument, Judge Awogboro sentenced the convict to 600 hours of community service.

The judge also ordered the convict to file an affidavit of good behavior before he could be released. The iPhone 9 recovered from him was also confiscated from the federal government in the absence of any appeal against the judgment within the time limit provided by law.

The offense would have breached Section 22(2)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2019 and is punishable under the same Act.

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