The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States has arrested Abidemi Rufai, a Senior Special Assistant to the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, over a $350,000 employment fraud.
The aide to the Ogun governor was arrested on Friday at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York based on a criminal complaint.
Rufai was subsequently charged with defrauding the Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000.
The 42-year-old Rufai, according to the US Department of Justice, District of Washington, was alleged to have used the pseudonym Sandy Tang and the stolen identity 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.
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 over $288,000 deposited 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.