The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have arrested Abidemi Rufai, a Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, over $350,000 employment fraud.
Rufai was arrested on Friday evening at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York based on criminal complaint.
He was subsequently charged with defrauding Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000.
According to the US Department of Justice, District of Washington, 42-year-old Rufai was alleged to have used the pseudonym Sandy Tang and the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with Employment Security Department for unemployment benefits last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acting US Attorney Tessa Gorman said, “Rufai also filed fraudulent unemployment claims with Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania. Rufai used variations of a single e-mail address in a manner intended to evade automatic detection by fraud systems. By using this practice, Rufai made it appear that each claim was connected with a different email account.”
The criminal complaint also said Rufai mailed some of the proceeds of his fraud to the Jamaica and New York addresses of his relatives with more than $288,000 deposits between March and August 2020.
“Since the first fraud reports to our office in April 2020, we have worked diligently with a federal law enforcement team to track down the criminals who stole funds designated for pandemic relief,” said Gorman. “This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud.”
Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle, Donald Voiret, said, “Greed is a powerful motivator. Unfortunately, the greed alleged to this defendant affects all taxpayers. The FBI and our partners will not stand idly by while individuals attempt to defraud programs meant to assist American workers and families suffering the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Rufai made his initial appearance last Saturday in New York and he is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday. Rufai risks 30 years in prison if found guilty of wire fraud.
Meanwhile, Dapo Abiodun, has suspended the SSA, Abidemi Rufai, for the alleged involvement in $350,000 unemployment fraud.
Dapo Abiodun’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, made Rufai’s suspension known, stating that his involvement in fraud is disturbing.
He was quoted as saying, “Governor cannot be held responsible for the actions of a full-grown adult.
“We received the very disturbing news of the arrest of one of the governor’s political appointees, Mr Abidemi Rufai in New York over alleged unemployment benefits and fraud in the United States, this morning.
“While the Governor cannot be held responsible for the actions of a full-grown adult, especially outside the jurisdiction of Ogun and Nigeria, he has since suspended the suspect from office to enable him to answer the charges levelled against him.
“The Governor wishes to condemn any act capable of undermining his determination to institute an open, transparent, accountable and morally upright behaviour in the State and in governance.
“Abiodun remains committed to his agenda of building our future together and will not condone criminals either in his government or the state in general.”