Ex-aide to the Ogun gov. receives a five-year sentence in the US


Ex-aide to the Ogun gov. receives a five-year sentence in the US
Abidemi Rufai, the temporarily suspended assistant to Ogun State Governor Dayo Abiodun, was given a five-year jail term for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft by a district court in Western Tacoma, Washington, in the United States.

The Western District of Washington US Attorney's Office confirmed this in a statement on Monday.

According to the statement, Rufai, a 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, was sentenced to five years in prison today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his attempt to steal close to $2.4 million from the American government, including roughly $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Rufai served as the governor of Ogun State's Special Assistant up to his imprisonment.

But according to the statement, he acknowledged a history of defrauding American disaster relief programs, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and filing false tax returns.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle stated during the sentencing hearing that the reason was greed, unbridled greed, and callousness toward people who have suffered.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown claims that Mr. Rufai was tenacious in his plan to commit fraud using the stolen identities of Americans.

He planned'mystery shopper' frauds, company email hacking efforts, and the filing of phony tax returns to financially hurt people and companies.

"But Mr. Rufai was also affected by the incident. He misappropriated help that should have gone to catastrophe victims in the United States, whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment payments, Brown said.

The Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement for the Justice Department, Associate Deputy Attorney General Kevin Chambers, stated that Abdemi Rufai "chose to abuse the pandemic for personal gain, utilizing stolen identities of Americans to maintain his opulent lifestyle abroad."

"Bringing this defendant to justice was a tremendous accomplishment for the U.S. Attorney's Office and their law enforcement partners. Whether they are in the country or abroad, the Department will continue to go after fraudsters who took advantage of these programs and try to recover their illicit gains.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit, since 2017, Rufai has stolen the personal information of over 20,000 Americans in order to submit more than $2 million in false tax returns and claims for federally funded disaster relief funds.

More than $600,000 was distributed by the many agencies involved. The Washington State Employment Security Department was the target of the largest fraud, which resulted in payments of $350,763 in false pandemic unemployment claims to accounts under Rufai's control. Additionally, Rufai filed false pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 additional states.

"The Department of Employment Security profoundly appreciates the Department of Justice, federal agencies, and law enforcement's hard efforts in this issue.

In the statement, Cami Feek, commissioner of the Employment Security Department, stated, "We always stand ready to hold individuals accountable who steal public dollars and we appreciate the partnership in discovering and prosecuting this individual."

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