The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun has suspended his SSA on Special Duties, Abidemi Rufai who was arrested in the United States for fraud. Abidemi Rufai was arrested by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday evening at the JFK Airport in New York over his involvement in a fraudulent scheme that obtained over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department.
Rufai was accused of using stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with the Employment Security Department for unemployment benefits last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 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 alleged that 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.”
“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.”
“This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud,” Gorman said.
Some of the proceeds were also mailed to 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.
The Special Agent in Charge of 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.”
According to the law, 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.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, May 15, Rufai made his initial appearance at the court and he is scheduled for a detention hearing on Wednesday.
If found guilty of wire fraud, Rufai risks 30 years in prison.
Following this development, the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun thereafter suspended Rufai, further stating that he cannot be held responsible for his actions.
In a statement released by Kunle Somorin, his Chief Press Secretary, Governor Abiodun said the news of his aide’s arrest and involvement in the fraudulent scheme was quite disturbing.
The statement reads in part;
“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 leveled against him.
The Governor wishes to condemn any act capable of undermining his determination to institute an open, transparent, accountable, and morally upright behavior in the State and in governance.
Gov. 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.”