Justice R.A. Oshodi of a Special Offences Court has convicted and sentenced A national diploma holder from Auchi Polytechnic, Francis Nduka to one year imprisonment with an option of N5 million fine.
He was convicted on amended two-count charge of possession of a document containing false pretence contrary to Section 318 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Nduka was accused of parading himself online as an American lawyer to engage in inheritance and romance scam. The ND holder from Auchi Polytechnic was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for inheritance and romance scam.
One of the counts reads: “Francis Chikodi Nduka, on or about the month of April 2020, in Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, had in your possession a document containing a false pretence, specifically, a document titled, “Google Account” printed from your email account [email protected] wherein you falsely pretended to be a man named Richard Ratz, which representation you knew to be false.”
The second count reads: “Francis Chikodi Nduka, on or about the month of April 2020, in Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, had in your possession a document containing a false pretence, specifically, a document titled, “THE BAR REGISTER OF PREEMINENT LAWYERS CERTIFIES THAT THE LAW FIRM OF BARRISTER RICHARD RATZ” printed from your email account [email protected] wherein you falsely pretended to be a lawyer named Richard Ratz, which representation you knew to be false.” He pleaded “guilty” to the charges
Following his guilty plea, the prosecuting counsel, O. Adewunmi, gave a review of the facts to prove the case against the defendant. Adewunmi told the court that the defendant was among suspected internet fraudsters arrested by operatives of the EFCC at the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State in April 2022 following actionable intelligence on activities of internet fraudsters in the area.
Adopting the facts of the case, Adewunmi said: “Sometimes in April last year the EFCC received intelligence report, which intimated that a group of individuals in the Iju area of Lagos State were carrying out fraudulent acts online.”
Following the intel, EFCC operatives carried out covert surveillance followed by a raid on the 27th of April 2022, during which a group of internet fraudsters were arrested including the defendant. Following his arrest, a black iPhone 7+, a grey leonove laptop, and a silver Lexus ES350 2011 model salon car were recovered from him.
Forensic analysis of his devices unravelled fraudulent documents which indicated that he paraded himself online as an American lawyer by the name Richard Ratz, to engage in inheritance scam, and also as a physiotherapist to defraud unsuspecting victims through romance scam.
Upon his arrest and interrogation, he was confronted with the fraudulent documents obtained from his devices to which he admitted emanated from him. He also admitted to benefitting the sum of $3,700.
Thereafter, the prosecution tendered in evidence the confessional statements of the defendant, bundle of fraudulent documents printed out from his devices, and copy of the EFCC exhibit form. There was no objection from the defence counsel, A.O. Adam. They were all admitted in evidence against the defendant.
Thereafter, the prosecution urged the court to convict him as charged and to order the forfeiture to the Federal Government items recovered from him.
Thereafter, Justice Oshodi declared him guilty as charged.