Abidemi Rufai, the suspended aide of Dayo Abiodun, governor of Ogun state has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for wire fraud and false identity by the District in Western Tacoma, Washington, United States.
The United States Attorney’s Office, confirmed this in a statement on Monday.
Prior to his arrest, Rufai was a special assistant to the state governor.
“A 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Nigeria, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his attempt to steal nearly $2.4m from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown,” the statement reads.
The statement, however, said 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.
In May 2022, the US department of justice said Rufai admitted using stolen identities to receive thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
He was also confessed to have since 2017 obtained identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans, submitted $2 million in claims for disaster relief and other federal benefits, and received more than $600,000.
According to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.
“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses,” he said.
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,” Brown said.
“45-year-old Rufai has agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies,” the statement quoted the US department of justice
“He has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution.”
Rufai’s 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.
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