Abidemi Rufai, a former aide to the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has been sentenced to five years in prison for wire fr@ud and aggravated identity th€ft for his attempt to ste@l nearly $2.4 million from the United States government, including approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
The convict was wearing a $10,000 watch and $35,000 gold chain when he was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York on his way to Nigeria in May 2021, according to The Associated Press.
The 45-year-old resident of Lekki, Lagos, was sentenced on Monday, September 26, 2022, by a federal judge in Tacoma, Washington.
Rufai pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, in May to wire fr@ud and aggravated identity th£ft charges, and was slammed with 36 months for wire fr@ud and 24 months for aggravated identity th€ft.
Judge Benjamin Settle, who issued the sentence on Monday, also ordered Rufai to pay more than $600,000 in restitution. Adding that the sentences will run consecutively at the U.S. correctional facilities in Fort Dix, New Jersey, or the Northeastern Regional.
“The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have s#ffered,” the judge said.
According to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, “Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the st@len identities of Americans for fr@ud.
He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ sc@ms, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially h@rm individuals and businesses. But when dis@ster struck, so did Mr. Rufai.
Whether it was hurricane dis@ster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he st@le aid that should have gone to dis@ster victims in the United States.”