Abidemi Rufai was arrested by the FBI at JFK Airport in New York on his way out of the United States.
According to the United States Department of Justice, Abidemi Rufai who serves as a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, could face a jail time of 30 years for allegedly defrauding a benefit scheme designed to help the citizens of America who were affected by the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Explaining how Abidemi Rufai carried out the wire fraud, the acting US Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said Rufai used an alias, Sandy Tang, to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department.
“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.,” he said
According to the US Attorney, Rufai stole the identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
He replicated his 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,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “By using this practice, Rufai made it appear that each claim was connected with a different email account.”
Proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s relative. Law enforcement determined said more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.
“Greed is a powerful motivator. Unfortunately, the greed alleged to this defendant affects all taxpayers,” said Donald Voiret, Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle.
“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.”