By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said it received disturbing news of the arrest of one of his political appointees, Mr Abidemi Rufai, in the United States over alleged unemployment benefits fraud.
Rufai was arrested Friday evening at JFK Airport in New York on a criminal complaint charging him with wire fraud for his scheme to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD), announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.
Rufai, aka Sandy Tang, 42, of Lekki, Nigeria, made his initial appearance Saturday May 15, 2021 in New York.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abiodun, Dr Kunle Somorin in a statement on Tuesday said: “In view of the gravity of these allegations, the Governor has ordered the immediate suspension of the accused appointee.
“The Governor wishes to restate his commitment to an open, transparent, accountable and morally upright Administration and will not condone any act bordering on criminality by anyone.”
He is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday.
The criminal complaint 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. Rufai 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.”