An Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos State, on Monday, sentenced a former student of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Francis Nduka, to two-year imprisonment for pretending to be an American lawyer.
Nduka, an Internet fraudster, defrauded his victims of $3,700.
Justice Ramon Oshodi handed down the verdict after the convict, who said he had been into romance scam since 2020, pleaded guilty to the charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Nduka was also accused of procuring a register of eminent lawyers printed from his Gmail account.
After the convict pleaded guilty to the charges, the EFCC counsel, Mrs Orhieoghene Adewunmi, gave the facts of the case.
Adewunmi said, “Sometime in April 2022, we received an intelligence report that some individuals were carrying out fraudulent activities in the Iju Ishaga area of Lagos State.
“EFCC operatives arrested him and recovered a black iPhone 11 Plus, a gray Lenovo laptop, and a Silver Lexus 350 Saloon car, with number plate, SMK 297GW, 2011 model.
“We found in the defendant’s gadgets that he had been pretending to be an American lawyer named Richard Ratz and also acted as Holland Diana, a Yoga therapist, and collected $3,700 from people.
“He admitted to the offence when he was arrested and also wrote a confession statement.
“Initially, a seven-count charge was filed and he opted for a plea bargain; that was why we narrowed it down to a two-count charge. I have the confessional statement and other documents and the car that was retrieved from him was registered.
“As restitution for the money, the defendant has agreed to forfeit the car, laptop, and iPhone 11 to the Federal Government,” she said.
Nduka, in his plea for mercy, told the court that he started Internet fraud in 2020.
“I am very sorry for what I have done; it will never happen again,” he added.
The convict’s lawyer, K. A. Adam, urged the court to be lenient in sentencing Nduka.
While delivering the judgment, Justice Oshodi, said, “You have hurt every lawyer in court today. Do you think you are better than them? So you have been posing as an American lawyer since 2020?
“Francis Nduka, I have listened to your plea of mercy and that of your counsel that I should give you a non-custodial sentence.
“Let it be known that the legal profession is a noble profession and you didn’t show any remorse while pleading for mercy.
“I hereby sentence you to one-year imprisonment for the first count and one-year imprisonment for the second count or pay a fine of N5m to the Lagos State registry.
“He should be taken to the maximum custody and the sentence should run concurrently.
“All the items, Apple black iPhone 11 plus, a grey Lenovo laptop, and a Silver Lexus 350 Saloon car, with number plate SMK 297GW, 2011 model, should be forfeited to the Federal Government.”
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