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On June 29, 2017, the Provincial Court in Toronto convicted Mr. Davidson Usifoh, a Nigerian living in Ontario, of numerous counts of fraud totaling over $200,000. The fraud charges stemmed out of what has been described as a phishing email scam emanating out of Nigeria and Dubai. Emails were sent to potential victims trying to lure them to send funds in relation to these fraudulent scams. There were inheritance scams, romance scams and a military service scam.
Victims were directed to and sent money to the bank accounts and Western Union accounts operated by the accused Davidson Usifoh. Usifoh conceded at trial that he received monies into the accounts and withdrew or otherwise transferred the money away. At trial Usifoh maintained that he did not know the funds were fraudulently obtained.
Fraudster a Licenced Paralegal at Altima Legal Clinic
Usifoh testified and denied knowing or even suspecting that these funds were obtained by fraud. Usifoh had graduated from the two year paralegal course at Humber College and was in the process of writing his Law Society exams at the time. He has since become a paralegal licenced by the Law Society of Upper Canada, and opened his own paralegal clinic called “Altima Legal Clinic”.
Fraudster’s Defence Evidence
Usifoh testified that he met someone who identified himself as Eddie Obijohn in a restaurant. Obijohn asked Usifoh to allow funds to be transferred into a bank account that Usifoh controlled and then moved to an account that Obijohn controlled upon his request, and in return he would get a commission.
However, Usifoh’s bank records revealed something else. They revealed numerous and various withdrawals, bill payments and purchases for the benefit of Usifoh following these deposits.
For example, on August 1st, 2013, Usifoh had virtually no money in his account. He received about $14,000 from one of the victims, Ms. Waner. He then paid off his credit cards, made other payments and made other purchases. By August 27, he had less than $120 in his bank. The victim Ms. Waner then transferred in another $49,000. On August 28th, he paid various other expenses and made other purchases with that money.
When cross examined on the various transactions and ABM purchases Usifoh testified that he often gave Obijohn his debit card to use and told him he could use it to spend whatever belonged to him and Obijohn agreed not to take out more than was his. Usifoh felt comfortable that there was no risk. He testified that, when Obijohn was finished using the debit card, he would call Usifoh and return the card.
Usifoh testified that sometimes he would get 2% commission, sometimes 1%, sometimes less. Twice, monies were deposited in error into his paralegal business account without his knowledge.
When asked why he did not just make one trip to the bank and get a draft for the whole amount less his commission, he replied that he would do that if that is what Obijohn asked him to do.
Usifoh had a driver’s licence in the name of Mathias Oko-Oboh. He was asked if he opened a bank account under the phony name. He did not remember. When he was then asked: “you don’t recall going into a bank with a phony identification”, he replied that he did, Records showed two separate bank accounts opened under the phony name.
The Court completely rejected Usifoh’s evidence. The Court held that his evidence about transferring the funds less his 2% commission to Obijohn the day the funds were delivered or the following day was belied by the objective facts. The records of numerous withdrawals, purchases, bill payments and so on did not accord with his evidence.
The Court held that Usifoh was using these funds for his own purposes. The Court did not believe Obijohn even existed. If there were any money transferred to Obijohn, where are those records? The Court noted that while there is no obligation on an accused to call evidence, he did call evidence – and it was all lies.
For further information on this case, or any other fraud recovery inquiry, contact Canadian Fraud News Inc.
For the full Reasons for Conviction related to this story, see: R. v. Usifoh, 2017 ONCJ 451, 2017 CarswellOnt 10708 (236646)