Suspended Abiodun’s aide jailed in US for $604,260 fraud.
Ejes Gist Newspaper reports that Mr. Abidemi Rufai, a suspended aide to Ogun Governor Dapo Abiodun, was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud by a United States (US) District Court in Tacoma, Washington State. Read Also Court slams Popular Nigerian Monarch with 15 Years Jail Term
Rufai, 45, of Lekki, Lagos, was found guilty of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for attempting to steal nearly $2.4 million from the US government, including approximately $500,000 in Covid-19 pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
According to a statement issued by the United States Department of Justice for the Western District of Washington, Rufai admitted to a long history of using stolen identities to defraud U.S. disaster programmes, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and to file false U.S. tax returns.
Although Rufai has agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies, the court found that he has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution.
“The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and callousness towards those who have suffered,” U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said during the sentencing hearing.
According to US Attorney Nick Brown, “Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use stolen identities of Americans for fraud.” He orchestrated’mystery shopper’ scams, attempted business email compromise, and filed false tax returns to defraud individuals and businesses.
Mr. Rufai, however, perished when disaster struck. He stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States, whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits.”
According to the article, Associate Deputy Attorney-General Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department’s Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, “Abidemi Rufai chose to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, using stolen identities of Americans to support his lavish lifestyle overseas.”
According to court documents, Rufai stole the personal identifying information of over 20,000 Americans in 2017 and used it to file over $2 million in claims for federally funded disaster relief benefits and fraudulent tax returns. More than $600,000 was paid out by the various agencies involved.
The most money was stolen from the Washington State Employment Security Department, which received $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims paid to accounts controlled by Rufai. Rufai also filed for pandemic unemployment benefits in at least 17 other states.
Rufai also defrauded the SBA by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020. The SBA awarded $10,000 based on the applications.
Rufai attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by filing 675 false claims between 2017 and 2020.
On these claims, the IRS paid out $90,877. He filed 49 disaster relief claims related to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in September and October of 2017.
He filed $24,500 in false claims and was paid $6,500 on 13 of them.
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In requesting a nearly six-year prison sentence, Assistant US Attorney Cindy Chang stated that Rufai’s scheme harmed real people who needed assistance. “In this case, Rufai successfully used the stolen identities of at least 238 real people who qualified for disaster relief and may have needed it right away.” This figure does not include the number of stolen identities Rufai attempted but failed to use.”