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US Court Jails Ogun Governor’s Aide, Abidemi Rufai For Five Years Over $2.4m Fraud

Abidemi Rufai has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for fraud.

Abidemi Rufai, a former Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has been sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to fraud in the United States.

US Court Jails Ogun Governor’s Aide, Abidemi Rufai For Five Years Over $2.4m Fraud

Abidemi Rufai Sentenced To US Prison For Fraud

KanyiDaily had reported how Rufai was arrested for defrauding the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) of hundreds of thousands of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 45-year-old Nigerian who also goes by the name ‘Sandy Tang of Lekki’ was arrested by the FBI in May 2021, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he was about to fly to Nigeria.

On May 3, 2022, Rufai pleaded guilty in US District Court in Tacoma to charges that he used stolen Social Security numbers and other personal data to file $350,763 in fake claims for pandemic unemployment benefits in 2020.

With stolen identities, he attempted to steal nearly $2.4 million from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

He also admitted 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.

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Rufai was also said to have submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states including Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

In asking for a nearly six-year prison sentence Cindy Chang, assistant United States attorney stated that Rufai’s scam hurt actual people who needed assistance

“In this case, Rufai successfully used the stolen identities of at least 238 real individuals who qualified for disaster aid and may have needed it urgently. This number does not account for the number of stolen identities Rufai attempted to use but failed,” she said.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, September 26, 2022, Benjamin H. Settle, US district judge said: “The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered.”

Nick Brown, US attorney said “Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.”

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“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses.

“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.”

According to a statement by the US department of justice, 45-year-old Rufai “has agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies”.

However, the statement added that “he has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution”.

KanyiDaioy recalls that Governor Dapo Abiodun had since suspended Abidemi Rufai, saying that the news of his involvement in fraud was disturbing.

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