TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Nigeria Jails Woman in $242 Million Fraud

Nigeria Jails Woman in $242 Million Fraud

Tume Ahemba (
Sat, 16 Jul 2005 12:25:57 -0500

By Tume Ahemba

A Nigerian court has sentenced a woman to two and half years in jail
after she pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the country's biggest
e-mail scam case, the anti-fraud agency said on Saturday.

Amaka Anajemba, one of three suspects in a $242 million fraud
involving a Brazilian bank, would return $48.5 million to the bank,
hand over $5 million to the government and pay a fine of 2 million
naira ($15,000), the agency said.

Scams have become so successful in Nigeria that anti-sleaze
campaigners say swindling is one of the country's main foreign
exchange earners after oil, natural gas and cocoa.

Anajemba's sentencing by a Lagos High Court on Friday is the first
major conviction since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) was established in 2003 to crack down on Nigeria's thriving
networks of email fraudsters.

The agency said in a statement that the judgment was "a landmark
achievement by EFCC in the fight against advance fee fraud, corruption
and other related crimes."

Typically fraudsters send out junk e-mails around the world promising
recipients a share in a fortune in return for an advance fee. Those
who pay never receive the promised windfall.

Anajemba, whose late husband masterminded the swindling of the Sao
Paolo-based Banco Noroeste S.A. between 1995 and 1998, was charged
along with Emmanuel Nwude and Nzeribe Okoli.

The prosecution said the three accused obtained the $242 million by
promising a member of the bank staff a commission for funding a
non-existent contract to build an airport in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

All three accused pleaded not guilty, but Anajemba later changed her
mind to enter a guilty plea in order to receive a shorter sentence.

Her prison term was backdated to start in January 2004 when she was
first taken in custody. The trial of the two others who maintained
their not guilty pleas was adjourned to September.

Ranked the world's second most corrupt country after Bangladesh by
sleaze watchdog Transparency International, Nigeria has given new
powers to the EFCC which is prosecuting about 200 fraud and corruption

The anti-fraud agency has arrested over 200 junk mail scam suspects
since 2003. It says it has also confiscated property worth $200
million and secured 10 other convictions. ($1=132.70 Naira)

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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