Justice Yelim Bogoro of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos state has ordered that 21-year-old Nigerian model, Cynthia Chioma Atuonah, who was arrested in April for allegedly defrauding a German of $220,000 be remanded in a Nigerian Correctional Centre.
The media had reported that Atuonah was arrested by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding the 50-year-old German national of $220,000, after promising to marry him.
The unit spokesperson, SP Eyitayo Johnson, who confirmed the arrest in a statement on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, said the suspect lured the victim on Instagram by feigning romantic intentions towards him and made a false promise to marry him.
‘’The suspect, a 2019 graduate of Economics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka; who claimed to be a Model and Proprietress of a Massage Spa known as The-Chi-Place, lured the 50-year old victim on Instagram by feigning romantic intentions towards him, thereby gaining the victims’ trust and goodwill,”
Miss Atuonah Chioma promised to marry the victim, invited him to Nigeria for visits on several occasions and convinced him to relocate permanently to Nigeria to live together as husband and wife.
In a ploy to dispel suspicion, the victim was made to meet with Atuonah Chiomas’ parents at Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom State where he received their blessings to marry their daughter.
The victim was persuaded by the suspect (Miss Atuonah Cynthia) to return to Germany to sell his house in Stuttgart, and forward the proceeds of sale, together with his pension and life savings to her domiciliary account in Bank; for the purpose of purchasing a house in Nigeria where they will both live as husband and wife as well as to establish a joint business outfit as indicated in the bank transfer narration.
During interview session, the suspect admitted in her statement that the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty Thousand Dollars ($220,000USD) was transferred to her account by the victim.
Part of the proceed was used then used to buy a 2-Bedroom Terrace apartment at Zara Estate, Ikota Villa, Lekki Phase II, while some of the funds was sent to support her mother’s business and to pay medical bills of her father.
Efforts are ongoing to recover other proceeds of the crime while the Unit remain committed to diligently investigate and prosecute fraudsters who are out there damaging the image of the country. ‘’ the police said
Following her arrest, Atuonah was arraigned before the court on five counts of charges bordering on obtaining by false pretences, fraud and unlawful conversation. The prosecutor, Henry Obiazi, told the court that the defendant committed the offences between January and February 2022. He said the offences contravened Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and Section 18 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.
When the charges were read to her, Atuonah pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer, N Ugo, informed the court of his client’s bail application, urging the court to grant her bail in the most liberal terms.
In his response, the prosecutor urged the court to discountenance the bail application.
Justice Bogoro ordered that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services till May 19, when a ruling will be delivered on the bail application.