The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced on Thursday, December 7, 2023, that it has secured the conviction and sentencing of Eze Harrison Arinze before Justice J.K Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja for defrauding 34 victims in 13 countries of $592,000 (Five Hundred and Ninety-Two Thousand United States Dollars).

Arinze was re-arraigned on one count charge of impersonation and obtaining under false pretense.

The amended count charge reads: "That you, EZE HARRISON ARINZE alias Charlotte Brain, sometime between April 2021 and December 2022 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulently impersonate one Charlotte Brain, a purported owner of investment platforms on Telegram, and in that assumed character obtained cryptocurrency worth $592,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ninety-Two US Dollars) from Coinbase exchange users through your bitcoin address - 333AgHuT8wAhowRBQZ2AS, domiciled with Coinbase, a Virtual Asset Service Provider, thereby committing an offense contrary to Section 22(3)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015, and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act."

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

In view of the plea, prosecution counsel, Christopher Mshelia, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant as charged.

Earlier, Ogunjobi Olalekan, a prosecuting witness and a detective of EFCC, while concluding his testimony-in-chief, told the court that the evidence obtained during the investigation was based on the printout from the defendant's email, other digital currency platforms, his Telegram page code-named 'Digi-trade,' including responses from banks, which amounted to a cumulative sum of $592,000 worth of cryptocurrency as of December 4, 2023. He added that the defendant was afterward invited to make statements under caution.

Justice Omotosho convicted and sentenced Arinze to three years imprisonment, with an option of a N3,000,000.00 (Three Million Naira only) fine. He added that 11.07 Bitcoins valued at $461,280.70 as of December 4, 2023, be restituted to the 34 victims from 13 countries as identified.

Furthermore, the judge ordered that a total sum of N37,977,108 domiciled in his bank accounts be forfeited to the Federal Government, including a plot of land located at Plot No. 34 Anioma Layout, Umuchigbo Iji-nike in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, measuring approximately 1380.609 Square meters.

Arinze's journey to the Correctional Centre started when he impersonated one Charlotte Brain and created a fictitious investment platform, on Telegram, and in that assumed character obtained cryptocurrency worth $592,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ninety-Two US Dollars) from Coinbase exchange users through his bitcoin address. His victims are from Burundi, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe.


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