By Lateef Adegbite
The last may not have been heard about . Abidemi Rufai, a former senior Special Assistant to Dapo Abiodun, governor of the south west state of Ogun state on Housing. He was allegedly involved in a $350 million Unemployment claims scam in the North American country of the United States, US, between February 9, 2020 and August, 2020, during the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19.
Rufai, a 42 year-old Ogun state born politician and a former senior Aide to the Ogun state governor in the West African country of Nigeria had been arrested on Friday, May 14, 2021 and currently standing trial in the US, over allegations that he had used the identities of more than 100 Washington state residents to file bogus unemployment claims with the Washington Security Department during the peak of the COVID 19. He was said to have denied any involvement in the illegal transactions when he appeared in a Federal Court in NwYork on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
The Nigerian politician appears to have made his case worse when he told the US Law Enforcement Authorities during interrogation that he had only $16,000 in his foreign bank accounts as reported by Washington Seattle Times. The Washington Seattle Newspaper had reported that his Bank records shows that between March 3, 2020 and August 2020, $288,825 was deposited from multiple source, including the Green Dot, into his Citibank Current Account which had contradicted the earlier information made during interrogation by the US Police Authorities. The US Law Enforcement Authorities had even reported that additional funds were transferred to the account of a second individual allegedly Collaborating with him in the Washington State Unemployment claims scam.
Many believe that Rufai may have played into the hands of the US, Law Enforcement agents because of the five debit cards and two credit cards that were found in his wallet. This is in addition to a luxury Cartier watch, seven pieces of luggage and three smart phones that were also said to have been found with him at the JFK International Airport, NewYork, on the Friday, that he was arrested while preparing to board a flight to Amsterdam, United Kingdom, and then take a connecting flight to Nigeria.
Michael .C. Barrows, a Lawyer, engaged by the fraudster in the US, to fight his legal battle with the US Law Enforcement Authorities o facilitate his release from prison Custody appears determined to do so. But the Law Enforcement officers were said to be frustrating the Attorney’s efforts by insisting that Rufai must remain in detention. The Law Enforcement Authorities decision may have been informed by the fact that’’ the Washington state recent Audit report had shown that he had’’ filed tens of thousands of bogus claims worth $646.8 million’’ .
Although, the Washington state Audit Deportment had reported that ‘’not all the impostors bogus claims were paid’’, as many were stopped by officials of the Unemployment Department before more funds went out, but that would not stop his prosecutors from standing on their ground that he should remain prison custody until his trial at the Tacoma Federal Court is Completed.
Reports from the Washington state unemployment Department shows that the state government had recovered $370million , from the unemployment fraudsters including Rufai, the Nigeria born politician and his Co-fraudsters at the peak of the peak of the COVID 19 last May, were said to have daily filed 13,000 unemployment Claims. Informed sources told The Value News that the US, Law Enforcement Authorities have every reason to keep the Nigerian alleged fraudster in their Custody because he was arrested at the JFK International Airport, New York, when he was about to escape to his home country, Nigeria
. This may have informed why they had had maintained their ground that if Rufai should be released on personal recognition and he escapes to Nigeria, his extradition will be extraordinarily difficult or impossible because of his ties to the Nigerian government’’. They had said that the Nigerian present ‘’ a flight risk’’.
But Barrows, Rufai’s Lawyer, was said to have argued vehemently n Court that his client did not in any way present a flight risk as alleged by his accusers because he has given up his international Passport to the Authorities. He had suggested that he could further be prevented from fleeing through ‘’less restrictive means Including travel restrictions and electronic surveillance, than having him remain prison custody for too long. But that was how far he could go.
An agitated Barrows noted that the US Law Enforcement Authorities have no reason to keep his Client too long in prison Custody because suspects accused of worst financial crimes in the US, have been saved of pretrial detention. According to him, ‘’there are white collar criminals such as insider traders who steal millions of dollars but were released from prison custody on personal recognition, noting that Rufai’s case should not be a different’’..
But the US Law Enforcement Authorities, had feared that he might escape to Nigeria. They noted
that Nigeria was’’ the fourth highest source of internet traffic accessing Washington’s unemployment system, up from the 64th position previously’’ and therefore needed to be put under close watch. It is not not surprising why the US Law Enforcement Authorities are taking the case of Governor Abiodun of Ogun state senior Aide very serious as a deterrence to other Nigerian internet fraudsters .
The Law Enforcement Authorities were said to have found out that the Gmail account used by Rufai’s alias Sandy Tang , has a Nigerian-based Cellphone number that was linked to the Gmail account which had been traced to his US visa Application in 2019. Bad news for Rufai, who may be waiting for his final conviction to serve a 30 years jail term in the US.
Recall that Rufai, ho is currently standing trial in the US, had been arrested sometimes last year after the Washing state announced the temporary suspension of its unemployment benefits, following the discovery that ”fraudsters had used stolen Social Security numbers and other personal information to file bogus claims for Federal and state unemployment benefits’’. Other states were said to have also reported such frauds in their own unemployment Security system.