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N7m fraud: Ponzi scheme operator sentenced to seven years in prison

The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced a Ponzi scheme operator, Umoren Edet, to seven years imprisonment for obtaining money under false pretence and issuance of dud cheques.

He was said to have fraudulently defrauded a woman of N7 million through a fraudulent Bitcoin deal.

A statement by the spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said Edet was jailed on Friday, June 18, 2021.

The judge, A.T. Mohammed, convicted him after he pleaded guilty to one count of advance fee fraud and ordered him to refund the N7 million proceeds of the crime, the statement added.

According to the EFCC, Edet was originally arraigned on Thursday, June 28, 2018 on the same one-count charge and he pleaded “not guilty” to the charge, leading to a trial that lasted three years.

“Specifically, Edet collected a sum of N7, 000,000 (Seven Million Naira only) from a petitioner ostensibly for bitcoin transactions. He neither transacted the business nor returned the invested money to the petitioner. This is contrary to Section 1(1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No.14, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act,” the anti-graft agency said.

Prosecuting counsel, Celestina Okorie, presented three witnesses against the convict, while the defence counsel, I. Ekwu, presented three witnesses.

In his judgment, Mohammed found Mr Edet guilty as charged. The defendant “was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine.”

“He also ordered that the sum of seven million Naira he defrauded the victim be returned to her,” EFCC also said.

The one-count charge Edet was convicted of reads, “That you Umoren Moses Edet, sometime in 2017, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court with the intent to defraud, obtained the sum of Seven Million Naira (N7, 000,000.00) by inducing one Mrs. Amaka Joy to pay the sum of Seven Million Naira (N7, 000,000.00) for the purchase/trade in bitcoins assuring her under false pretense of making a 50% profits on the investment, a representation you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No.14, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

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