$382,000 bitcoin scam: EFCC reveals how Nigerian ‘duped’ victims in 13 countries

A prosecution witness in the trial of Eze Harrison Arinze appeared before Justice J. K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

The suspect allegedly received $382,000 worth of bitcoins from his victims before his account was blocked by his Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP).

The witness, Ogunjobi Olalekan, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officer told the court that Arinze convinced his victims to deposit funds into his bitcoin accounts for investment.

Arinze was arraigned on March 22, 2023, before Justice Omotosho, on five count charges bordering on obtaining by false pretence and money laundering to the tune of $769,263.

In one of the charges, Arinze, between April, 2022 and December, 2022 in Abuja allegedly impersonated Charlotte Brain,purported owner of Digitrades.Ltd/Digitrades.Net/Swiss-Earnings/Craystal-Trade investment platform on Telegram.

His offence violated Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him.

At the resumed trial of the case, Olalekan told the court that the EFCC requested for users on the platform who deposited crypto currency to the defendant’s account.

“About thirty persons on the platforms deposited various sums of bitcoin to the defendant’s account,” the officer confirmed.

Olalekan said victims were identified from 13 countries, while the total inflow to his bitcoin wallet address based on the response was about 15.5btc valued around $382,000.

Justice Omotosho adjourned the matter for continuation to June 14, 2023 and ordered the remand of the defendant in Kuje Correctional Centre.