The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday sentenced Mrs Damilola Ahmed Adeyeri and her son, Alaba Kareem Adeyeri, to 12 years’ imprisonment each for duping an American of $82,570.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke convicted the duo following their plea of guilty to four counts of “fraudulent trick business email compromise” during their arraignment on Tuesday.
He sentenced each defendant to three years’ imprisonment on each of the four counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge said the sentences would run concurrently.
This means Mrs Adeyeri and her son will spend a maximum of only three years in correctional services custody.
EFCC counsel Bilikisu Buhari told the court that mother and son conspired with one Kareem Russell, still at large, to defraud the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Cranes Manufacturing Company.
She said they committed the offence in June 2017 and were arrested on September 6, 2019.
The prosecutor said Mrs Adeyeri and her son carried out the fraud by “dishonestly representing yourselves as the CEO of American Cranes Manufacturing Company and thereafter you sent an email from email@example.com with intent to gain advantage to yourselves.”
She the convicts acted contrary to Sections 27(1)(a) and 23(3) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and were liable to be punished under Section 22(1) of the same Act.
The offences were also said to have been contrary to sections 421 and 422 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38.
Buhari also called an EFCC investigator, Idi Musa as witness.
Musa testified that sometime in April 2019, the commission received a petition from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of America, stating that the official email address of American Cranes Manufacturing Company was hacked and the sum of $82, 570. 00 was lost to the fraudsters.
He told the court that the FBI reported that there was a syndicate of fraudsters who defraud companies through business e-mail compromise and obtain millions of dollars from American citizens.
Idi said Damilola was arrested on September 6, 2019, after which his mother was apprehended when she went to withdraw money from the bank upon hearing that EFCC was investigating her son.
She purchased properties in the name of her son with the money made from the fraud.
The court heard that the monies stolen by the convicts were used to acquire properties in choice areas of Lagos, and some cash was also found in their bank accounts.
Before sentencing, the prosecutor pushed for the judge to apply the maximum sentence possible on the convicts to serve as a deterrent.
Responding, Justice Aneke agreed that although the convicts immediately admitted guilt and showed remorse, he had a duty to apply punishment in accordance with the law to serve as a deterrent to others.
But he said he would temper justice with mercy because the convicts, by pleading guilty immediately, had saved the court’s time.
“Consequently, I hereby sentence each of the convicts to three years on counts one, two, three and four. The sentences are to run concurrently,” Justice Aneke held.
The judge further ordered that all the properties and monies recovered from the convicts be forfeited to the Federal Government and upon applications by the victims, be restituted to them