CALABAR, Nigeria – A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross Rivers State has convicted and sentenced six facebook hackers to one-year imprisonment each, with an option of N500,000.00.
The convicts are Lawrence Nnamdi-Mba Ebesike, Prince E. Udeh, Chijioke Victor, Promise Odimba, Ugbor Ifeanyi and Prince Anthony.
It was gathered that they were arraigned Wednesday, September 25, on separate one-count charge, bordering on impersonation and fraud, before the same court and they all pleaded “guilty”.
The anti-graft spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren disclosed this in a statement in Abuja.
EFCC further said that 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, it was learnt, was thereafter adjourned to September 26, for conviction and sentence while the convicts were remanded in Afokang prison, Calabar.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, Justice Simon Amobeda convicted all the defendants and sentenced each to one-year imprisonment, with the option of N500,000 fine.
He also 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.
But EFCC explained, “The convicts ran into troubles on September 2, when operatives of Uyo Zonal Office of the EFCC arrested them in a two-bedroom apartment, located on 54 Church Road, off Calabar Itu Expressway, 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.
He confessed, “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”,
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 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.”