Justice Adebisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, on November 27, 2012, sentenced Ibok Benneth Preston, a national youth corps member to eight months imprisonment for attempting to commit internet fraud. The convict was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a ten count charge bordering on forgery and possession of fraudulent proposal document to the tune of $4,500 (Four Thousand Five Hundred Dollars). The offence is contrary to Sections 363 of the criminal law of Lagos State, vol. 44 No 11 of 2011.
He was arraigned on November 1, 2012, on allegation that he fraudulently issued forged Union Bank of Nigeria Plc receipts, letters and several other documents purportedly obtained from the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), using the false identity of a Rev. Christopher Wallace, with intent to defraud unsuspecting individuals over a contrived European Winning Lottery programme.
When arraigned, he pleaded not guilty and he was detained in Kirikiri prison while the case was adjourned till November 27, 2012, for hearing of the bail application.
But on the adjourned date, Preston changed his plea from ‘not guilty’ to “guilty”, having entered into a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution. Counsel to the accused person, J. Njoku, urged the court to temper justice with mercy as the accused had shown remorse for his action, more so as he is a first offender.
The prosecution counsel, I.O. Daramola urged the court to convict the accused person in line with his plea.Justice Akinlade consequently sentenced to eight months imprisonment effective from August 28, 2012, when he was arrested.
Preston’s road to jail followed a petition by a prominent industrialist who alleged that some unknown person hacked into his email account while his access to the account was blocked. The unknown person started sending mails to his contacts asking that money be sent to a certain bank account. After thorough investigation, Preston was arrested and he confessed to the crime.