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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Woman jailed 18 months for cyber fraud

A Ghanaian woman, who conspired with a Nigerian to defraud a US citizen of an unspecified amount of money, has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment by an Accra High Court.

Vida Patty Agboletey, under the fraudulent name of Elizabeth Caldwell and her accomplice, Chigozie Awom, aka Davis Wingate, between 2012 and 2013 duped the US citizen of unspecified amount of money and other materials, including mobile phones, laptops and digital game.

Her accomplice was the main architect behind the fraud while the money was lodged into her accounts.

Read: Most banks not equipped to block cybercrime – Analyst

She also used other fraudulent postal addresses to receive other items sent by the complainant.

The convict and her partner were, however, unable to withdraw the money because the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) froze the account due to the suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

Chigozie Awom, aka Davis Wingate, jumped bail in 2013.

Apart from the custodial sentence, the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, sentenced Vida Patty Agboletey, aka Elizabeth Caldwell, to pay a fine of GH?12,000.00 or in default spend 48 months in jail.

EOCO has also been ordered by the court to transmit US$20,000.00 in the convict’s frozen bank account at Fidelity Bank.

Chigozie Awom, who was using the forged name Davis Wingate in 2012, met the complainant, who is a flight attendant with US Airways on an online dating site.

Read: Urgent need to address growing cyber security challenges

The two later established a relationship and Chigozie began to demand items and money.

Chigozie Awom later lied to the woman that he had been transferred to Ghana to construct a $800,000.00 bridge and would return after the completion of the project.

According to the facts, Chigozie Awom, aka Davis Wingate, asked the complainant to send him money to take care of his son, among others.

He reportedly promised to pay back the money after the completion of the purported project in Ghana.

Throughout the fraudulent act, Vida Patty Agboletey used her bank account which she fraudulently opened with a fake National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) identification card under the name Elizabeth Caldwell.

According to the prosecution, investigations revealed that between March 2012 and October 2013, the US citizen sent money and Dell laptop, four cell phones, eight Apple iPads and a hand-held video game system to both the convict and her accomplice.

Read: Phone scam: How Kenyans are losing money

The prosecution noted that the most significant transaction occurred on July 18, 2013 when the complainant wired US$20,000.00 from a US bank account to the Fidelity Bank account of the convict.

The convict, during the four-year trial denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the money was sent to her by the stepmother and she took steps to get EOCO to defreeze the bank account but to no avail.

She also claimed that she had no idea that the monies were proceeds of crime, a statement which was inconsistent with her earlier statement on the source of the monies.

The court, at the end of the trial, found her guilty of two charges – conspiracy to defraud by false pretenses and money laundering

She was convicted and sentenced accordingly.

Source: Daily Guide

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