Crypto Trader Convicted for Internet Fraud, Fined N200,000

A Peer-to-Peer (P2P) crypto trader, Lawrence Success Karinate has been convicted by a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos for computer related fraud.

According to a statement issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)on Monday, Justice Nicholas Oweibo convicted Karinate who was prosecuted by its Lagos Zonal Command.

According to the EFCC statement, Karinate was prosecuted on a one-count charge bordering on cybercrimes, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 22(2)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition etc.) Act, 2015.

“That you Lawrence Success Karinate, sometime in 2023, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, fraudulently held out yourself on social media platforms, as a female, bearing the name “Jessie Randall”, a fashion influencer, to unsuspecting members of the public, with intent to gain advantage for yourself and you thereby committed an offence, contrary to and punishable under Section 22(2)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition etc.) Act, 2015,” the one count charge read.

He pleaded “guilty” to the one-count charge preferred against him.

Counsel to the EFCC, Usman Abubakar and following Karinate’s guilty plea, called a witness, Taiwo Owolabi who is an operative of the anti-graft commission, to review the facts of the matter.

Owolabi told the court that the defendant, alongside others, was arrested in the Lekki area of Lagos State on May 26, 2023.

“Upon his arrest, he was brought to the EFCC office, where his iPhone and HP computer were analyzed.

“Fraudulent documents were printed out from his devices and he made restitution to the tune of N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira).

“He was further interrogated, and admitted to have engaged in a pig-butchering scam and benefitted the sum of $2000 (Two Thousand United States Dollars) from it”, the EFCC witness said.

According to the EFCC, pig butchering scam is a type of fraud in which criminals lure victims into digital relationships to build trust before convincing them to invest in cryptocurrency platforms.

The EFCC counsel, Usman, therefore, applied to tender, in evidence, the defendant’s extra-judicial statement, fraudulent documents printed out from his iPhone, and laptop computer as well as the management cheque issued by him.

Justice Oweibo admitted them as exhibits A, B, C and C1, D and E respectively and convicted him as charged.

Karinate, however, expressed regret for his involvement in the criminal activity and assured the court that he would never engage in internet fraud again.

His counsel, Chikezie Kingsley, also prayed the court for mercy, stressing that the defendant was a first-term offender.

In his judgment, Justice Oweibo sentenced him to a fine of N200,000.