In a recent legal case that unfolded within the vibrant city of Lagos, crypto trader Lawrence Success Karinate narrowly escaped incarceration as he pleaded guilty to partaking in a fraudulent scheme known as the pig-butchering scam, which yielded him a sum of $2000.
The proceedings took place before the esteemed Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, situated in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, October 6, 2023. Astoundingly, Karinate’s conviction was swiftly pronounced on the very same day as he entered his guilty plea.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), responsible for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes in Nigeria, clarified that the pig-butchering scam is a deceptive tactic wherein criminals establish digital relationships with their victims, gradually building trust before persuading them to invest in cryptocurrency platforms.
The narrative surrounding Karinate’s arrest reveals that he was apprehended, alongside several accomplices, in the Lekki district of Lagos State on May 26, 2023. Under the guise of a female persona named “Jessie Randall,” a purported fashion influencer, he deceitfully presented himself on various social media platforms to perpetrate this fraudulent scheme.
Karinate faced prosecution from the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC, charged with a single count related to cybercrimes, a violation stipulated in Section 22(2)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition etc.) Act, 2015. Unreservedly, he pleaded “guilty” to this charge.
Subsequent to his admission of guilt, the EFCC’s counsel, Usman Abubakar Ahmad, called upon a witness, Taiwo Owolabi, an operative of the EFCC, to expound upon the case’s details.
Owolabi recounted the circumstances of Karinate’s arrest in the Lekki area of Lagos State on that fateful day in May 2023.
Upon apprehension, Karinate’s iPhone and HP computer underwent meticulous analysis, revealing the presence of incriminating fraudulent documents.
Additionally, he made a partial restitution amounting to N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira).
During further interrogation, he confessed to participating in the pig-butchering scam, ultimately profiting to the tune of $2000 (Two Thousand United States Dollars).
Usman proceeded to request the admission of the defendant’s extra-judicial statement, the fraudulent documents extracted from his iPhone and laptop computer, as well as a management cheque issued by Karinate.
Justice Oweibo duly admitted these items as exhibits A, B, C, C1, D, and E, respectively, subsequently convicting Karinate as charged.
Nevertheless, Karinate expressed deep remorse for his involvement in this criminal endeavor and earnestly assured the court of his commitment to refraining from any further engagement in internet fraud.
In a conclusion to this legal drama, Karinate’s counsel, Chikezie Kingsley, beseeched the court for clemency, emphasizing his client’s status as a first-time offender.
In response, Justice Oweibo imposed a fine of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) as the verdict, allowing Karinate to narrowly escape the clutches of incarceration.