Court Remands Alleged WhatsApp Hacker In Prison Over N700,000 Fraud

Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded an alleged internet fraudster, Stephen Ojo, who allegedly specialised in hacking the WhatsApp accounts of unsuspecting members of the public.

Justice Aluko ordered that Ojo be kept in the custody of the Ikoyi Center of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) until January 24, 2024, when the case will be resigned to another judge.

The court gave the order after the defendant was arraigned before him by the Officers of Zone 2, Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, on a four-count charge of conspiracy, identity theft and obtaining the sum of N700,000 by false pretence.

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The police prosecutor, Zebedee Arekhandia, had earlier informed the court that the defendant and others now at large, on September 12, 2024, at ajao Estate, Lagos, conspired among themselves and engaged in identity theft by hacking the WhatsApp of one Mrs Laraba Shuaibu, and impersonated her.

Arekhandia claimed that the alleged hacker used the hacked WhatsApp to fraudulently obtain the sum of N700,000 from one Mrs. Osasu Tina Eriamiatoe.

He further told the court that the money was paid into the defendant’s Union Bank account and PalmPay account number 9550723433, belonging to one Michael Ijua.

The prosecutor also maintained that the offences are contrary to sections 8(a) and 1(3)(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

Arekhandia further insisted that the offences also contravened sections Section 24 (2)(a)(b) (i)(ii) and (iii) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015. And Section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2022 as amended in 2012.

Although the defendant pleaded guilty to the offences, stating that he was not the person who committed the alleged crimes, Justice Aluko recorded a ‘not guilty plea’ for him based on his conflicting plea.

The judge, who is a vacation judge, then ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Ikoyi centre of NCoS till January 24, 2024, when the Court’s Chief Judge will reassign his case file to a substantive judge.

17th April 2024
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