A Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State, on Wednesday, has sentenced a 25-year-old man, Babatunde Shittu, to a year in jail for engaging in and benefitting from $5,000 cryptocurrency fraud, according to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report.
The convict had claimed to be an investor in cryptocurrency, and produced fraudulent documents in order to defraud members of the public.
Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe sentenced him after he pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of cryptocurrency fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Abike-Fadipe said: “Upon the defendant’s guilty plea and admission of the facts, he is hereby convicted of the one-count charge.
“He is hereby sentenced to one year imprisonment with an option to pay N500,000 fine and embark on 40 hours of community service.”
The judge also ordered the convict to forfeit to the Federal Government, his iPhone 12 Pro Max and a MacBook computer, which were recovered from him as proceeds of the crime.
She held that the convict was a first-time offender, who promised to be of good behaviour and make restitution, hence, the liberal sentence.
Shittu had, after pleading guilty, prayed to the court for leniency.
“I am really sorry, I have realised my mistake, and I am ready to live a better life and become a better person,” he said.
His counsel, Ms Biola Adeyemi, in her plea for mercy, said that Shittu was genuinely remorseful.
“My Lord, he is indeed very sorry for his actions and he has promised to exhibit good behaviour.
“We humbly pray Your Lordship to temper justice with mercy,” she prayed.
EFCC counsel, Mr Abdullahi Gambuwa, had, however, urged the court to convict Shittu and sentence him accordingly.
While reviewing the facts of the case, Gambuwa said that Shittu was arrested by EFCC following an intelligence report.
He said: “He was arrested and he gave a voluntary statement after being interviewed.”
The counsel told the court that Shittu admitted to have benefitted from the $5,000 fraud.
“We also recovered an iPhone 12 Pro Max and a MacBook laptop from him.
“He claimed to be an investor in cryptocurrency, thereby misinforming the public,” the prosecution counsel said.
According to EFCC, the offence contravenes Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act of 2006.