Abidemi Rufai Indicted For Conspiracy, Wire Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft

 

 Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman has announced that Abidemi Rufai who was arrested May 14, 2021, at JFK Airport in New York, has now been indicted for conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft for his scheme to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department. 

Mr. Rufai, aka Sandy Tang, 42, remains detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle to order Rufai detained and transported to the Western District of Washington for arraignment on the indictment.

Rufai is now charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, and five counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment alleges that Rufai used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Other indictments include that “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.

READ ALSO: Ogun Governor Suspends Aide Arrested For Alleged Fraud In US

“Rufai caused the fraud proceeds to be paid out to online payment accounts such as ‘Green Dot’ accounts, or wired to bank accounts controlled by “money mules.” Some of the proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s brother. Rufai was residing at his brother’s home during part of the period of the fraud. Law enforcement determined more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.”

Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud are punishable by up to thirty years in prison when the offense relates to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially declared disaster or emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year sentence to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other counts of conviction.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG). The fraud on ESD is being investigated cooperatively by the FBI, DOL-OIG, Social Security Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. The Washington Employment Security Department is cooperating in the investigation.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson, Cindy Chang, and Benjamin Diggs of the Western District of Washington, and Trial Attorney Jane Lee of DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).

Ogun Governor Suspends Aide Arrested For Alleged Fraud In US

Abidemi Rufai, the Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun

 

Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has suspended his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, Abidemi Rufai.

The suspension is sequel to his arrest in the United States for alleged involvement in $350,000 unemployment fraud.

Channels Television had reported how the governor’s aide was apprehended at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York based on a criminal complaint.

The aide’s suspension was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, adding that his involvement in fraud is disturbing.

READ ALSO: Dapo Abiodun’s Aide, Abidemi Rufai Arrested In US Over $350,000 Fraud

“The Ogun State governor,  Dapo Abiodun, has received the very disturbing news of the arrest of one of his political appointees, Mr Abidemi Rufai, in New York over alleged unemployment benefits fraud in the United States,” he said.

“In view of the gravity of these allegations, the Governor has ordered the immediate suspension of the accused appointee.

“The Governor wishes to restate his commitment to an open, transparent, accountable and morally upright Administration and will not condone any act bordering on criminality by anyone.”

Dapo Abiodun’s Aide, Abidemi Rufai Arrested In US Over $350,000 Fraud

Abidemi Rufai, the Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun

 

Abidemi Rufai, the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has been arrested in the United States of America over $350,000 employment fraud.

Rufai was quizzed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday evening at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York following a criminal complaint.

He was subsequently charged with defrauding the Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000.

The suspect was said to have used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Rufai was accused of using variations of a single e-mail address in a manner intended to evade automatic detection by fraud systems.

US law enforcement agents said more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai 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 Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman.

“This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud.”

See the statement issued by the Washington Department of Justice below:

Nigerian citizen charged with defrauding Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000

Arrested at NY airport on a criminal complaint

Seattle – A Nigerian citizen was arrested Friday evening at JFK Airport in New York on a criminal complaint charging him with wire fraud for his scheme to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Abidemi Rufai, aka Sandy Tang, 42, of Lekki, Nigeria, made his initial appearance Saturday, May 15, 2021, in New York.  He is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday.

“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 Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman.  “This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud.”

The criminal complaint alleges that Rufai used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits.  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.

Rufai caused the fraud proceeds to be paid out to online payment accounts such as ‘Green Dot’ accounts, or wired to bank accounts controlled by “money mules.”  Some of the proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s relative.  Law enforcement determined more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.

“Greed is a powerful motivator.  Unfortunately, the greed alleged to this defendant affects all taxpayers,” said Donald Voiret, Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle. “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.”

Wire fraud is punishable by up to thirty years in prison when it relates to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG).  The fraud on ESD is being investigated cooperatively by the FBI, DOL-OIG, Social Security Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.  The Washington Employment Security Department is cooperating in the investigation.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson, Cindy Chang, and Benjamin Diggs of the Western District of Washington, and Trial Attorney Jane Lee of DOJ’s Cyber Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).