The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured the conviction of one Adekunle Abiodun Aderibigbe.
The Nigerian was on the watch list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, delivered judgement.
Aderibigbe, a member of a syndicate operating in the United States, specialized in stealing of American citizens’ data.
He and accomplices perpetrated the fraud through the help of Curtis Betley, serving a jail-term in the U.S.
They stole the identities of Americans and use them to file over 255 fraudulent tax fund returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), making over $1.6million.
The EFCC, acting on a FBI report, arrested Aderibigbe and arraigned him August 5, 2020 on an amended five-count charge.
The charges included retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, contrary to Section 17 of the EFC Establishment Act 2004, and impersonation, contrary to Section 378 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Aderibigbe, between the year 2014 and 2016 in Lagos, retained the sum of N22million in his account, being proceeds of crime on behalf of Olumiyiwa Olawoye, Adekunle Adegunroye and Keke Animahun (all at large).”
The court also heard how he opened an email email@example.com linked to numbers 0803366089 and 08059985552 and falsely presented himself as a tax collector in the U.S. to dupe victims.
Aderibigbe pleaded “not guilty”. The prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, who opened his case on August 24, 2020, called three witnesses and tendered several documents.
The defence opened its case on October 3, 2021, with the defendant taking to the dock to defend himself.
In his verdict, Justice Taiwo held that the money traced to Aderibigbe was the proceeds of crime as he failed to prove its source sufficiently.
He was found guilty for retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, sentenced to two years with an option of N2million fine and ordered to restitute N8million.
The court, however, discharged and acquitted Aderibigbe on the offence of impersonation.