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Internet fraud kingpin bags 376-yearjail term

Posted by By OLA AGBAJE on 2006/02/13 | Views: 753 |

Internet fraud kingpin bags 376-yearjail term

It was harvest time recently for an Internet fraudster as he bagged a 376- year jail term at an Ikeja High Court for defrauding an American of N3 billion in a shady deal.

It was harvest time recently for an Internet fraudster as he bagged a 376- year jail term at an Ikeja High Court for defrauding an American of N3 billion in a shady deal.

Harrison Odiawa (aka Abu Belgore) who had come to court with his travelling bag from Kirikiri and was bubbling with hope that he would return home was left shattered and broken hearted when he was pronounced guilty as charged by the court presided over by Justice Joseph Oyewole.

He was found guilty on 48 counts of the 58- count-charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the key role he played in the mega scam that not only rendered the American victim, George Blick broke but also earned him 30 months’ jail term in USA.

The fraudster had baited Blick with the false claim of overseas payment of N205 million Federal Ministry of Health contract sum to certain companies in the United States of America. The purported contract has a fictitious identification number FMOH/Faii83/98. To perpetrate the crime, the fraudster used several forged documents, including certificate of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), contract award certificate purported to have been issued by the ministry.

Blick was also deceived by the fraudster that a body known as Contract Review Panel would facilitate the transfer of the huge amount.
Giving his judgment, Justice Oyewole agreed with the prosecutor, Mr Seidu Atte, who had argued convincingly with several pieces of documentary evidence how Odiawa collaborated and conspired with others now at large to hoodwink their victim, Blicks, to part with over N3 billion from his company, Quest Exploration and Development and liquidation of his personal assets.

Odiawa’s accomplices, according to the prosecution, include one Dr Tunde Oni based in London, Dismount Okoro, described as Oni’s Personal Assistant, Mr Mayor and Mr Anderson.
Though the court held that when the fraud was being carried out, there was no evidence of physical meeting between Odiawa and his victim, it was, however, established that there was a clear meeting of minds between the accused based in Ikeja and his accomplices who were overseas.

Indeed, the court agreed with the prosecution that all the payments into the coffers of the syndicate between April, 2003 and August 2003 were all at the express instructions of Odiawa who had originally sent the first scam letter through e-mail to Blick.

The judge noted that Blick fell for Odiawa’s bait due to combination of greed and naivety. However, the court found his evidence truthful and unambiguous in his recollection of events and description of places while his identification of the accused who he had interacted with for over hundred times through telephone conversations, e-mails and telefax was accepted.

Blick had stormed the court from USA, where he is serving prison term, to give his testimony and listen to Odiawa’s plea. He was quick to identify the convict as the owner of the voice he was used to throughout the duration of the scam.

The court noted that Odiawa and his accomplices severed communication with Blick when they could no longer get anything from him while the convict, out of sheer greed re-established contact in July 2004 "to try a fresh angle from which he and his confederates could further defraud the victim.

The court described Odiawa’s line of defence as "queer and shows desperation." A desperation brought about by the fact that he was arrested with incriminating evidence linking him with Blick, a link he had obliterated in the past.

Consequent upon his guilt, Odiawa was sentenced for conspiracy, forgery stealing, uttering of forged documents, among others. He would, however, sojourn in prison for only 12 years as the jail term will run concurrently.

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