American government seeks forfeiture of Abidemi Rufai’s $600,000 proceeds of fraud

The United States Government has asked the District Court in Tacoma to order the forfeiture of $604,260 (N392 million) equivalent being the interest that accrued from Abidemi Rufai’s commission of wire fraud.

Penpushing reports that Rufai, who was said to be eyeing House of Representatives seat  at the national assembly in the forthcoming general election was arrested in May 2021, and subsequently pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The politician, an official of Ogun State Government, as at the time of his arrest at JFK Airport, in New York, when arraigned admitted using stolen identities to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits

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Penpushing further reports that, the former Special Assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State in a plea agreement, unlawfully obtained the personal identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2 million in claims for federally funded benefits under a variety of relief programs.

The various agencies involved paid out more than $600,000, while in a fresh move American Government through its Attorney, Nicholas Brown, on 4 August, urged the court to accede to a forfeiture request.

Penpushing also reports that, the Attorney General in the court filings, based the application on the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure of the United States of America (USA), reminding the court that Rufai’s guilty plea to the fraud on 3 May 2022.

The court documents highlighted how the Nigerian politician defrauded America citizens of various sums through the Washington Employment Security Department where $350,763 was stolen, and this include$10,166, stolen at Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, while America Small Business Administration lost $10,000 to his fraudulent activities, amongst other key American institutions.

“The sum of these amounts is $604,260. Therefore, the United States is requesting an order of forfeiture in that amount, requesting the total proceeds defendant obtained from his wire fraud scheme,” the application emphasised.

Penpushing reports that, American government posited that it will request the Attorney General apply any amounts it collects toward satisfaction of this forfeited sum to the restitution that is ordered, while the documents added that Rufai also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states.

The documents added that, 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 the con politician.

Penpushing further reports that, the embattled Nigerian defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) tied to the coronavirus pandemic, and between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020, he submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications. SBA paid out $10,000 based on the applications.

The documents disclosed that, Rufai between 2017 and 2020, attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by submitting 675 false claims, while the IRS paid out $90,877 on these claims, and attempted to fraudulently enrich himself with false disaster claims precedes the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Penpushing also reports that, in September and October 2017, he submitted 49 disaster relief claims connected to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, equally submitted $24,500 in false claims and was paid on 13 claims totaling $6,500.

The prosecutors, as at the time of filing this report have agreed to recommend no more than 71 months in prison, but the recommendation is not binding on American District Judge Benjamin H. Settle, while the Judge has fixed Monday, 15 August, for the sentencing, which will be determined after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

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