A 28 year-old student of University of Lagos was yesterday sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for defrauding an American lady on the internet. The student, Michael Opaleye, allegedly defrauded Kathy Lunsford, a lady he met online of 9,200 dollars (N1.4 million) after making a bogus marriage proposal to her through e-mail.
According to the EFCC Counsel, Opaleye had convinced her to send him the money as part of his travelling expenses from the United Kingdom to the U.S. Using the alias, Bentley Lyon, he forged a bank draft which he claimed was issued by the Bank of Ireland, Dublin.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Opaleye is a student of computer science at the University of Lagos, and had entered into a plea bargain deal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was arraigned on a three-count charge of obtaining by false pretences and forgery.
The judge sentenced him to 18months imprisonment which would commence from March 15, the date he was first arraigned.
The judge also ordered him to pay N100,000 monthly to the victim, through the EFCC, after his release from prison till he offsets the full sum. He was thereafter asked to forfeit the electronic appliances and other items purchased with the proceeds of the crime, which were recovered from his house during the investigation of the EFCC.
He committed the offences between 2008 and 2011.
When I first heard this news, I felt it was kind of odd for an American lady to trust a Nigerian student who promised her marriage. But after reading further and realizing he used an alias, it made more sense.
The news is embarrassing though. But, I can’t help but admire the creativity of our youth. It is unfortunate that the desperate thirst for quick riches pushes most people to commit such crimes. A lot of people give up on their dreams in one year, but this guy pressed on for three years (he committed the crime between 2008 and 2011). It would have been an entirely different story if this creativity and dedication he used to swindle this woman was channeled into something constructive.