Crime/DefenseForeign/World NewsLegal/Judiciary

COVID-19 fraud: ‘I am guilty’ — Abidemi Rufai

A former Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Abidemi Rufai, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the United States.

The 45-year-old Rufai had been in custody since he was apprehended at New York’s JFK airport in May 2021.

Rufai’s guilty plea position is coming almost a year. The convict specifically admitted to using stolen identities to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits during his arraignment at the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced.

According to the plea agreement, since 2017, Rufai unlawfully obtained the personal identifying information of more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2 million in claims for federally funded benefits under a variety of relief programmes while 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,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Rufai also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states.

“Rufai also defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020, he submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications. SBA paid out $10,000 based on the applications,” the statement added.

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