The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma has ruled that Abidemi Rufai should remain in detention.

 

This was contained in a press release issued by the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.

Rufai, a suspended aide of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, is currently enmeshed in $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud in the United States.

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His bail was denied following a move by the government for “a stay of the release order.”

 

The United States District Judge, Benjamin Settle, has, however, granted the government’s motion to stay release of Rufai.

 

Rufai is now charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and five counts of aggravated identity theft.

 

The indictment alleges that Rufai used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Rufai also filed fraudulent unemployment claims with Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

 

The statement read partly, “He 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. 

 

”Rufai caused the fraud proceeds to be paid out to online payment accounts such as ‘Green Dot’ accounts, or wired to bank accounts controlled by “money mules.” Some of the proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s brother.  

 

“Rufai was residing at his brother’s home during part of the period of the fraud. Law enforcement determined more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.

 

”Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud is punishable by up to thirty years in prison when the offence relates to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

”Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year sentence to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other counts of conviction.

 

”The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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