Abidemi Rufai, the suspended aide of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for fraud by a US court.
Rufai had attempted to use stolen identities to steal nearly $2.4 million from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
According to the statement, Rufai admitted a long history of using stolen identities to defraud U.S. disaster programs, including aid for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and file fraudulent U.S. tax returns.
The 45-year-old convict who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was said to have succeeded in defrauding 12 US agencies of $600,000 paid out into bank accounts controlled by him.
Rufai also defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020, he submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications. SBA paid out $10,000 based on the applications.
Between 2017 and 2020, Rufai attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by submitting 675 false claims. The IRS paid out $90,877 on these claims.
The largest amount of fraud was committed against the Washington State Employment Security Department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to accounts controlled by Rufai. Rufai also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states.
From the plea agreement with the prosecution, Mr Rufai agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies.
The trial judge, Benjamin H. Settle reportedly said;
“The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered.”
Though Mr Rufai agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies as revealed in a plea agreement with the prosecution, the US Department of Justice said he “has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution.”