The Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on March 8, 2023 secured the conviction of three internet fraudsters before Justice Efe Ikponmwonba of Edo State High Court, Benin City.
The convicts – Osayi Gregory, Smart Okunrobo and Justice Osagie Beggedo- were arraigned on separate one count charges of impersonation and obtaining by false pretence. They had between 2018 and 2020 impersonated foreign nationals to defraud unsuspecting victims.
The charge against Gregory read: “That you, Osayi Gregory (M) sometime between 2018 and 12th January 2023 in Benin City, Edo State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud represent yourself as Estefani Castellanos, a bitcoin trader and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap 48, Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria (as applicable in Edo State) 1976”.
The charge against Beggedo read: “That you Justice Osagie Beggedo (M) sometime between 2020 and 12th January 2023 in Benin City, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did with intent to defraud represent yourself to be Montaya-Jauricell, a lady from the United States of America and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 484 of the Criminal Code Law Cap.48, Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria (as applicable in Edo State) 1976”.
Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded guilty to their respective charges, prompting the prosecution counsel, Francis.A.Jirbo pray the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly. However, counsel to the defendants, Pascal Ugbome urged the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants have become remorseful for their actions.
Justice Ikponmwonba convicted and sentenced Gregory and Okunrobo to three years imprisonment with an option of a Five Hundred Thousand Naira fine while Beggedo bagged three years imprisonment or a fine of Two Hundred Thousand Naira.
The judge also ordered that two Mercedes Benz GLK 350 cars belonging to Gregory and Beggedo, the sum of N9, 287,686.90 in the First Bank Account operated by Gregory alongside his accomplice, Osayi Patricia (his mother), the sum of N85, 525.99 in Gregory’s UBA account and phones, being instruments of crime, be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the EFCC.