Former aide of Governor Dapo Abiodun on Housing, Mr Abidemi Rufai, who is serving time in a federal prison facility in the United States of America has regretted his involvement in COVID – 19 related relief fraud, which sent him to prison.
The Daily Crucible reports that a United States district court had sentenced Abidemi Rufai to years in prison in connection with $350k COVID – 19 fraud after he was arrested and tried in court.
Prior to the trial, the US Department of Justice had in May this year, said Rufai admitted using stolen identities to receive thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment support packages.
He was said to have obtained identifying personal data of 20,000 Americans, submitted $2 million in claims for disaster relief and other federal benefits, and received more than $600,000.
It was also discovered that the largest haul of the alleged 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 was also said to have submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states, including Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The prosecution, Cindy Chang, an assistant United States attorney while at the time asking for almost six-year prison sentence to be slammed on Rufai, said the convict’s scam hurt actual people, who needed assistance.
“In this case, Rufai successfully used the stolen identities of at least 238 real individuals who qualified for disaster aid and may have needed it urgently. This number does not account for the number of stolen identities Rufai attempted to use but failed,” she said.
At the sentencing hearing late September 2022, Benjamin Settle, US district judge, said: “The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered.”
Also, Nick Brown, US attorney said: “Mr Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.
“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, and business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses. But when disaster struck, so did Mr Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States.”
However, barely 10 weeks in prison, remorseful Abidemi Rufai said his involvement in the COVID – 19 relief scam was a huge disappointment even as he expressed the hope that he would face his rehabilitation process and some educational programmes in the prison facility.
The penitent convict made known his remorsefulness when he spoke to Gateway Times late Thursday from prison.
He spoke while trying to refute a viral online report which claimed that he brought some investors to the state and got $50,000 as incentive.
The report had alleged that Rufai during his short engagement with the Ogun State government as one of the aides to the governor, used to collect $50,000 each time he brought an investor to the state and that he was also paid $2,000 monthly salary.
” Yes, I am speaking from a sane mind as I need to make this crucial clarification.
“I am granting this interview with you from my Transfer Centre in Oklahoma from where I will head to New Jersey, my designated institution in a matter of few days.
“Please let it be on record that I never granted interview or claimed during my trial that I was bringing investors to Ogun state. My salary as SSA to Gov Abiodun was N300,000 monthly and this you can verify. Again, the issue of being paid $50,000 dollars for bringing investors only existed in the mind of those who are spreading the twisted report.
“I regret every bit of my action for getting involved in the Covid – 19 fraud. It was a huge disappointment and I have become remorseful after all. I am hoping to face my rehabilitation process of some educational programmes in the prison here.
“But please note once again that the report of bringing investors and getting $50,000 dollars was satanic and false.
“I am not a stranger to challenges, but the major obsession for me is finding ways to turn my challenges to amazing opportunities. This is what I am trying to do in the prison institution,” Rufai said in an interview granted the online news medium.
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