By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged how Abidemi Rufai, a 42-year-old senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to the Ogun state governor, Dapo Abiodun at the John F.K. International Airport,NewYork, United States of America, USA, was arrested and detained by the dreaded Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, agents , on Friday, February 14, 2021.
This is because of the alleged $650 scam in the North American country Employments Security Department, ESD. The ESD fraud was so pronounced in 2020, that Donald Trump, a former US, President was forced to temporarily suspend the payment of the employment benefits to beneficiaries in order to fish out the Culprits.
The US ESD Officials had discovered in their system that some criminally minded elements had’’used other people’s social security numbers to file bogus claims of over $650 million. The fraud had been traced to many including Abiodun Rufai, a Nigerian and a senior Aide to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun state governor He was alleged to have used more than 100 identities of Washington residents to steal over $350 million alone.
The alleged fraud was said to have been investigated by the FBI, at the instance of Trump, the then American President, with the support of other multiple Federal agencies, including the Department of Labour Office General and the Cooperation of the ESD, officials.
Aware that hundreds of millions of dollars had been stolen in the fraud Scheme may have informed why the Law Enforcement agencies beamed their searchlight on the ESD. Their findings in Collaboration with the US Cybercrime experts was said to have given an insight that most of the fraudsters were partly based in Nigeria. It was therefore not very surprising why the FBI had to zero in on all those allegedly indicted in the $650 million fraud believed to be living in Washington state including Abiodun.
Trouble was said to have statted for the Ogun state born Politician when hearrived the US on February 19,2020 and left on August 2020. He was said to have been in the country during the period of the fraud. The Bank records shows that between March 3, 2020 and August 2020, $288,825 was deposited in multiple sources, including Green Dot into a Citibank cheque account in Rufai’s name.
Additional funds were said to have been transferred by the ESD, to the account of Rufai’s Collaborator whose name remained a closely guided secret. The second fraudster was said to have filed Claims using Nigerian’s Gmail account. The second Individual was said to have also filed unemployment benefits in other states.
Many believe that Joe Biden, the current US, President, may have given a matching order to the FBI and other Law Enforcement agents in the country to smoke out the Fraudsters and further urged the ESD, officials to block all areas of leakage Employment payment benefits Scheme.
This may have informed why the Nigerian who was arrested at JFK International Airport was dragged to a US Court on Saturday, May 15, 2021, ‘’on charges that he had used more than 100 Washington residents identities to steal over $350million employment benefits from the Washington Security Department during the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, in 2020. In committing the fraud, the Nigerian suspect and his Co- fraudsters were said ’’to pilfer from unemployment systems in Washington and other states’’
Rufai may have played into the hands of the US Law Enforcement Agents who had been in search for him when he reportedly returned to the US, at some point after his August 2020 departure. He was said to have initially planned to leave the US on Friday, May 14, 2021, evening through the JFK , international Airport, NewYork, and return to Nigeria. Unknown to him the information had leaked out as the Law Enforcement Agencies who had obtained an arrest warrant had to lay ambush for him at the popular JFK, International Airport in NewYork Airport and they got him.
Tessa Gorman a US, acting US.Attorney for the Western District of Washington DC, had confirmed that the arrest of the Nigerian fraudster, is the first of such arrests in ‘’the ongoing investigations of the country’s ESD fraud’’ cases in the recent time.
A Nigerian resident in Seatle , in Washing ton DC, had told The Value News that the Ogun state Politician had been scheduled for a detention hearing today, Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and will be prosecuted at a Federal Court in Tacoma.
Informed sources told The Magazine that the Washington state was among the first in US, to be hit by a wave of employment and security fraud which may eventually spread to other states to siphon billions of dollars in Federal aid meant for COVID 19 victims. US Immigration officials had said that Rufai’s presence in the country was unusual in the ESD, unemployment fraud scheme.
Investigations shows that many of the fraudulent Claims perpetuated by the Nigerian in the US, ESD, were filed from Nigeria. The Nigerian fraudster was said to have bypassed the security systems in ESD, using ‘’a simple feature of Google’s free Gmail’’. The FBI Agents Investigating the Fraud were said to have initially identified Rufai through a single Gmail account he used to make 102 Claims for the Pandemic – related unemployment benefits from ESD, as well as Claims at programs in other states.
It was learnt that the Ogun state Politician , initial original email address was Sandytangy58@mail.com but was expanded to include dot variants such as email@example.com from ESD emails that was said to have been sent to him. The Ogun state Political appointee was said to have used the dot variants to create multiple accounts in the Washington State system that authenticates the online users of the government services.
This may have informed why he was able ‘’to file for unemployment benefits with the ESD, using the alleged stolen personal identities of the real Washington residents. Rufai, may have been able to monitor all the ESD Correspondence regarding to each Claim because emails sent by the agency to the dot variants went to his Gmail account.
Further information revealed that in January 2021, a Federal Judge in Washington, had ssued a warrant to Gogle to search, who operates the Gmail, following investigators report to search Rufai’s Gmail account. The investigators were said to have found more than 1000 emails including Gmails, the agency had sent allowing new Claimants to activate their accounts.
The investigators were said to have also discovered an additional 100 emails from other states unemployment systems , which were reportedly used for the stolen unemployment benefits. More worrisome was the fact that the banking tactics allegedly used by the Nigerian fraudster ‘’ link him with a Nigerian Crime Organisation known as Scattered Canary’’, a Crime expert had said.
Being a wire fraud, which is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment in Crimes involving benefits, paid in connection ‘’ to a Presidential declared disaster for emergency, such as the COVID 19, the US, Rufai, may likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Abiodun, the Ogun state governor who felt disappointed that Rufai, one of his kitchen Cabinet appointees, could involve himself in unemployment fraud acts in faraway US, had fired him . Kunle Somorin, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor who confirmed the sack of the Aide, had said that it was a message to other political appointees to watch their steps to avoid playing into the hands of the governor .
Already the Ogun state governor had restated his ‘’Commitment to open, transparent, accountable and morally upright Administration that will not condone any act bordering on Criminality by any person’’. This is news for other Political appointees in the south west state who may want to follow the footsteps of sacked Rufai, senior Special Assistant, Special Duties.