Governor of Ogun State’s aide, Abidemi Rufai has been arrested in the US over a $350,000 covid 19 unemployment benefits fraud.
According to reports, he was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last Friday, May 14, by federal agents as he allegedly attempted to leave the country. He appeared in a US Federal court on Saturday, May 15, on charges that he used the identities of more than 100 Washington residents to steal more than $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Tessa Gorman, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said:
“Since the first fraud reports to our office in April 2020, we have worked diligently with a federal law enforcement team to track down the criminals who stole funds designated for pandemic relief. This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud.”
United States Department of Justice in a statement said:
”Rufai also filed fraudulent unemployment claims in Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania. Rufai used variations of a single e-mail address in a manner intended to evade automatic detection by fraud systems. By using this practice, Rufai made it appear that each claim was connected with a different email account.
Rufai caused the fraud proceeds to be paid out to online payment accounts such as ‘Green Dot’ accounts, or wired to bank accounts controlled by “money mules.”
Some of the proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s relative. Law enforcement determined more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.”
Investigators said Rufai used small variations in email addresses in a Gmail account, which made it appear like he was multiple people, to slip through fraud detection at ESD. He primarily uses the address [email protected] but would scatter periods in variations like [email protected] and [email protected] Investigators said Gmail addresses do not recognize periods, so anything sent to the different addresses went straight to Rufai’s inbox.
Commenting on his arrest, Donald Voiret, Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle, said
”Greed is a powerful motivator. Unfortunately, the greed alleged to this defendant affects all taxpayers. The FBI and our partners will not stand idly by while individuals attempt to defraud programs meant to assist American workers and families suffering the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.”