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Ogun governor suspends aide arrested in US for fraud

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Abidemi Rufai

Ogun State governor Tuesday suspended his aide Abidemi Rufai, who was arrested in the United States on Friday for suspected wire fraud.

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“Our position is that the law should take its course,” said Kunle Somorin, the chief press secretary to Govenor Dapo Abiodun. ““Meanwhile, the governor has ordered his immediate suspension from office to answer charges against him.”

The newspaper said Rufai was suspended immediately the governor was briefed about his arrest.

Rufai, the founder and chief executive of Ecobet, was accused of stealing the identities of 100 residents of Washington to file fraudulent unemployment claims between March and August 2020.

He was also fingered in similar fraud scheme in Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania. He faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of fraud relating to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman accused Rufai of using an alias, Sandy Tang, to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

“Since the first fraud reports to our office in April 2020, we have worked diligently with a federal law enforcement team to track down the criminals who stole funds designated for pandemic relief,” said Gorman.

“This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud.”

The proceeds of his fraudulent claims were 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 relative. Law enforcement determined said more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.

“Greed is a powerful motivator. Unfortunately, the greed alleged to this defendant affects all taxpayers,” said Donald Voiret, Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle.

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