Internet Scam: Lebanese Bags 1 Year Jail-Term, Forfeits N100M, Benz, Others


The Convict, Hamza Koudeih



A Lagos Federal High Court, on Thursday has convicted and sentenced a Lebanese cybercriminal, Hamza Koudeih, to one year imprisonment or a fine of N1 million in lieu of jail.

Justice Tijjani Ringim, who convicted him, also forfeited Koudeih’s N100 million, to the Federal Government, found in a firm’s bank account with Zenilth Bank Plc.

Also forfeited were the convict’s luxury Mercedes Benz GLE43 SUV with Chassis Number: HJGEDGEBXHA063213, two iPhones and a HP Desktop computer.

The judgment followed a plea bargain agreement Koudeih entered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC arraigned 2nd defendant Koudeih in November last year alongside his Nigerian co-defendant Kayode Philip, alias ‘Voice of the King’.

They pleaded not guilty to a charge of engaging in cyber fraud and attempting to retain the sums of $6million and £1million in the Bank of China.

The EFCC said they also “knowingly engaged in computer phishing and spamming which resulted in acquiring sensitive information” from various emails.

Koudeih, who was out on bail, on August 24 sought and failed to obtain leave of the court to return to his country to see his psychiatrist.

He then approached the EFCC and indicated his intention to change his plea.

The convicted Lebannese had on Wednesday, September 9, struck a deal to plead guilty to the offence of phishing in exchange for a less severe sentence.

EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo had on Thursday, presented the terms of the bargain before the judge, pursuant to Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

As part of the deal, Koudeih entered into a bond with the EFCC “to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any form of economic and financial crimes both within and outside the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Upholding the application, Justice Ringim held: “I have listened to the submission of the prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo on the plea bargain agreement between the 2nd Defendant and the commission.

“The same agreement is hereby entered as judgment of this court.

“The sum of N100 million, a white coloured Mercedes Benz GLE43 and HP Laptop are hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. This is judgment of this court.”

It would be recalled that the dou were first arraigned on 25 counts charge bordering on cybercrime offence in 2019, before Justice Muslim Hassan, who has now been elevated to court of Appeal.

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