Journalism of Courage

$350,000 Covid-19 fraud: U.S. court jails Ogun Gov. Abiodun’s aide, Abidemi Rufai, 5 years

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a press release, also revealed that Rufai admitted to having been part of the team that “obtained personal identifying information of more than 20,000 Americans to submit fraudulent claims for more than $2 million in federally funded payments since 2017.”

Abidemi Rufai, the suspended Special Assistant to the Governor of Ogun State, has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud by a U.S. court.

Persecondnews recalls that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had arrested Rufai in May 2021 for allegedly defrauding the State of Washington of over $350,000 in unemployment benefits through wire fraud following a criminal complaint by about 100 defrauded U.S. residents.

Rufai was also said to have submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states including Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

According to the FBI, the criminal complaint alleges that Rufai used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

“Rufai used variations of a single email 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 to a different email account.”

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a press release, also revealed that Rufai admitted to having been part of the team that “obtained personal identifying information of more than 20,000 Americans to submit fraudulent claims for more than $2 million in federally funded payments since 2017.”

In his ruling, the U.S. District judge, Benjamin H. Settle, blamed Rufai’s action on ‘’unrestrained greed and callousness towards those who have suffered’’.

He sentenced Rufai to 60 months in prison for $2.4 million in wire fraud and aggravated identity theft from several authorities in the U.S., including about $500,000 in coronavirus relief grants.

The 60 months include 36 months for wire fraud and 24 months for aggravated identity theft of which the sentences are to run consecutively at the U.S. correctional facilities.

The court also ordered Rufai to pay the sum of $607,377 as restitution, adding that he should list all assets linked to him that will be seized if he cannot pay the $607,377.

However, a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice indicated that Rufai “has agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies, but has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution.”

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