The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), on Monday, October 7th, arraigned an American, Marco Ramirez at an Ikeja Special Offences Court for allegedly defrauding two Nigerians in a bogus green card scam.
Ramirez alleged by the EFCC to be a serial fraudster was previously arraigned on June 22, 2017, before Justice Josephine Oyefeso, on 16-counts charge of conspiracy and obtaining under false pretences.
He was said to have defrauded three Nigerians – Amb. Godson Echejue, Mr Abubakar Umar and Mr Olukayode Sodimu of 545,000 dollars from February 2013 to August 2013 in Lagos. He had plead not guilty to the offences and was admitted to bail in the sum of $250,000.
However, midway to the defendant’s trial, the case file was transferred from Justice Oyefeso’s court to Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court for speedy conclusion of the case. On June 20, he was re-arraigned before Justice Mojisola Dada on an amended 12-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining under false pretences for defrauding Echejue, Umar and Sodimu of $1.2million.
He is standing trial in all the criminal suits alongside his companies – U.S.A Now LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP and U.S.A Now Capital Group. Ramirez and his companies have however been arraigned on Monday by the EFCC on a fresh nine-count charge of obtaining money by false pretences.
He allegedly defrauded two more Nigerians – Gabriel Edeoghon and Oludare Talabi of 388,838 dollars. According to Vera Aigboje, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Ramirez committed the alleged offences in 2013 and 2014 in Lagos.
“From May 22 to July 26, 2013, Ramirez on three occasions received a total of 291,290 dollars from Edeoghon. From Feb. 28, 2014 to April 17, 2014 Ramirez on six occasions received $97,549 from Talabi.
“He falsely represented to the defendants that the funds were investments into his companies in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) United States of America Investor Programme. Ramirez also falsely informed the complainants that their investments will qualify them to be eligible for a USA Green Card.
“The offences contravenes Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act,” Aigboje said.
Following the arraignment, the defence counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, requested that the American enjoy the bail he had been granted by Justice Josephine Oyefeso in 2017.
“He has been on administrative bail in the earlier matter since 2017 on conditions which we feel are enough to guarantee his presence before this honourable court. The condition given by Justice Oyefeso is that he be admitted to bail in the sum of 250,000 dollars which was complied with and he was never absent in court,” Oyewole said.
Justice Dada obliged the SAN’s request and ordered that Certified True Copy (CTC) of Justice Oyefeso’s bail ruling be properly presented before the court. She adjourned the case until October 10 for trial.