Abidemi Rufai, former aide to Ogun State governor was sentenced to prison in US. In a statement issued by US Department of Justice reads: ” A 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 5 years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his attempt to steal nearly $2.4 million from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. At the time of his arrest, Abidermi Rufai was the Special Assistant to the Governor of Nigeria’s Ogun State. He admitted a long history of using stolen identities to defraud U.S. disaster programs, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and file fraudulent U.S. tax returns. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered.”
According to records filed in the case, since 2017, Rufai stole the personal identifying information of more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2 million in claims for federally funded disaster relief benefits and fraudulent tax returns. 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.
“Rufai used stolen personal identifying information of thousands of Americans in order to defraud more than $600,000 in government benefits, including approximately $350,000 from the Washington Employment Security Department. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who defrauded unemployment insurance programs during the global health crisis,” said Quentin Heiden, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Los Angeles Region.
Abidemi Rufai has been in custody since his arrest at New York’s JFK airport in May 2021. The Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office assisted with detention hearings following Rufai’s arrest.”