Alleged forgery: Internet fraudster knows fate Friday

Justice Serifat Solebo has fixed Friday for judgment in the charge of fraud against an Internet fraudster and popular “yahoo-yahoo boy”, Taiwo Michael Okunowo.

Taiwo Okunowo, who goes by three other aliases including “Holy Herlich, Mark Welsh and Steven Staller”, was initially arraigned before the court on a one count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The charge stated: ” Taiwo Michael Okunowo, a.k.a. “Holy Herlich, Mark Welsh and Steven Staller” on or about  December 16, 2017  made a false documents to wit Facebook, Government Compensation Winning Certificate, Treasure Grant Winners Certificate and Facebook-Brandon M. Mickey with intent to use as genuine to the prejudice of any people”.

The offence is said to be contrary to section 363(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State no 11 of 2011.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty.

EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Anselem Ozioko had tendered Government Compensation Winning Certificate, Treasure Grant Winners Certificate and a Facebook account page of the defendant where he bears another name as exhibit before the court.

But at resumed proceeding Wednesday, counsel to the defendant, Mr. John Odubela (SAN) informed the court of his client’s intention to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.

He said that his client has entered into plea bargain agreement with the EFCC.

Mr. Ozioko who confirmed the development did not opposed the oral application.

He gave a review of facts of the case by the prosecution against the defendant.

He said: “Based on the intelligence tip off of his suspicious activities and his syndicate, a convert operation was carried out by the EFCC on December 16 last year, whereupon the defendant was arrested alongside several of his partners in crime.

“The defendant was taken to the Lagos Zonal Office of the EFCC where he was processed and the items recovered from him particularly his HP Laptop computer was analyzed through forensic examination of the EFCC ICT Lab.

“The analysis revealed that the defendant is a carreer internet fraudster popularly known as ‘yahoo yahoo’.

“Several documents containing false pretences were found in his possession and printed from his HP Laptop computer such as document containing conversation in which he falsely represented himself to one Michael Smith as a white female with the name Holly Herlich,” Ozioko said.

He also asked the court to order the defendant to forfeit a Toyota Camry car, been proceed of fraud and the HP laptop been an instrument used to facilitate the forgery and fraud act.

He urged the court to convict the defendant to one year imprisonment in accordance with the terms of the plea bargain agreement.

After listen to submission of the counsels, Justice Solebo adjourned the matter till tomorrow for conviction and sentencing of the defendant.

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