A former aide to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has pleaded guilty to fraud and aggravated identity theft, in the United States.
45-year-old Abidemi Rufai admitted to using stolen identities to claim over $350,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
According to the plea agreement, since 2017, Abidemi Rufai unlawfully obtained the personal identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2 million in claims for federally funded benefits under a variety of relief programs. The various agencies involved paid out more than $600,000.
The peak of his fraud was committed against the Washington State Employment Security Department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to account controlled by Abidemi Rufai.
The Nigerian 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.
Between 2017 and 2020, Rufai attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by submitting 675 false claims. The IRS paid out $90,877 on these claims.
Rufai’s efforts to enrich himself with false disaster claims did not start with COVID-19. In September and October 2017, he submitted 49 disaster relief claims connected to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. He filed $24,500 in false claims and was paid on 13 claims totaling $6,500.
Rufai has agreed to pay full restitution to the defrauded agencies.