KADUNA, 12 March 2021 – A federal high court in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, has charged Nigerian-born Collins Samuel with fraud in US COVID-19 assistance programs and remanded him in custody, pending trial.
Collins Samuel pleaded “not guilty” in the case which accuses him of fraudulently obtaining $8,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the U.S. State of Virginia.
The cyber fraud case involved Samuel presenting himself as Ashley Cooper, an American citizen affected by COVID-19.
The alleged cyber fraudster, Collins Samuel, redeemed the $8,000 benefit through bitcoin wallet addresses which he reportedly obtained from various cryptocurrency traders.
Justice P. Mallong ordered the accused cyber criminal, who was arrested in Jos, Plateau State, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), awaiting trial.
The case was adjourned Friday until next March 22 for determination of bail application and the actual trial.
The EFCC has slammed Samuel with one count of impersonation and obtaining the benefit by false pretenses.
The Kaduna Zonal Office also arraigned Precious Bala Musa on Friday before Justice Mallong on a three-count charge of internet-related fraud.
The defendant was arrested in Keffi Local Government Area in Nasarawa State after information linked him to several fraud cases, including identity theft and obtaining by deception.
He allegedly defrauded his victims of a total of $17,000.
His alleged crimes include the hacking into the bank account of a certain Irene Hackett during which he reportedly siphoned $3,500 in violation of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention, Etc.) Act of 2015.
Musa also pleaded “not guilty”. Musa has been remanded in custody in the Correctional Service pending trial.
It is unclear whether authorities in the United States want any of the accused extradited to the United States.
Meanwhile, in a related development, 57 cyber fraud suspects were arrested by officials of the EFCC at four hotel hideouts in Ilaro, Ogun state, on Friday.
A spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said the suspects were involved in a range of cyber crimes, from love scams on numerous dating sites, to obtaining money by false pretenses.
Four exotic cars, mobile phones, laptops, pump action rifles and several incriminating documents were recovered from the suspects who have been remanded in custody.
They will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded, Uwujaren told reporters.