Yesterday in Tacoma, the United States District Court sentenced Abidemi Rufai, one of the Special Assistants to the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, to five years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Rufai, a 45-year-old Nigerian, according to a statement issued by U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Washington signed by U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, said was jailed for his attempt to steal nearly $2.4 million from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
According to the statement, Rufai 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 callousness towards those who have suffered.”
“Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses. But when disaster struck, so did Mr. Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States.”
”Abdemi Rufai chose to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, using stolen identities of Americans to support his lavish lifestyle overseas,” said Associate Deputy Attorney General Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department‘s Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and their law enforcement partners did exceptional work bringing this defendant to justice. The Department will continue to pursue fraudsters who abused these programs and seek to recover their ill-gotten gains, whether they are in the United States or overseas.”