A District Court in Western Tacoma, Washington, United States has sentenced Abidemi Rufai, Ogun State Dapo Abiodun Ex-aide to five years imprisonment for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to a statement issued by U.S attorney Nick Brown, Rufai stole the identity of over 20,000 Americans to carry out series of cyber frauds. The statement reads, “A 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his attempt to steal nearly $2.4m from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.”
In the statement, Rufai admitted a long history of wielding stolen identities to defraud US disaster programmes, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and filing fraudulent US tax returns.
While delivering the Judgement, US District Judge, Benjamin Settle, said Rufai motivation was “unrestrained greed, and callousness towards those who have suffered.”
“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses.
In addition, Brown further noted “But when disaster struck, so did Mr Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States,”
Also, The Associate Deputy Attorney-General, Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department‘s Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, said, “Abidemi Rufai chose to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, using stolen identities of Americans to support his lavish lifestyle overseas.
“The US Attorney’s Office and their law enforcement partners did exceptional work bringing this defendant to justice. The department will continue to pursue fraudsters who abuse these programmes and seek to recover their ill-gotten gains, whether they are in the United States or overseas.”
According to records filed in the case, since 2017, Rufai submitted more than $2m in claims for federally funded disaster relief benefits and fraudulent tax returns.
Also, the Commissioner for the Employment Security Department, Cami Feek, in the statement, said. “The various agencies involved paid out more than $600,000. The largest amount of fraud was committed against the Washington State Employment Security Department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to accounts controlled by Rufai. Rufai also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states,”