Recent Findings have exposed the long history of Abidemi Rufai, an appointtee of Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, who was recently arrested for his involvement in a $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud in the United States of America.
The U.S. government in a letter exclusively seen by POLITICS NIGERIA told the United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York, Ramon Reyes, that Mr Rufai’s illegality is beyond his recent fraud case.
The United States Department of Justice told the court that Mr Rufai has no ties in the states and may likely not return if granted bail except if he did not find his way to Nigeria. According to Acting U.S. Attorney, Tessa Gorma, Mr Rufai has a long history of using stolen private information of people to submit fraudulent “imposter” claims worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the government.
“Since at least 2017, Rufai has participated in a variety of fraud schemes, including the submission of fraudulent FEMA disaster relief claims and Fake submissions to the IRS”
“He has on several occasions been questioned by law enforcement agents but he denied any participation in the fraud,” parts of the letter seen by this newspaper explained.
Ms. Gorma told the Magistrate that the governor’s aide has a bad history and characteristics that weigh heavily in favor of detention.
“First, Rufai’s history and characteristics weigh heavily in favor of detention, particularly his extensive ties to his home country of Nigeria. In a post-arrest interview with federal law enforcement officers, Rufai acknowledged he holds a government position in Nigeria.”
“Moreover, according to his statements to the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services (Pretrial Services), the defendant has a wife, two children, 15 siblings, and parents—all of whom reside in Nigeria except one brother.
“Second, by contrast, Rufai has no known contacts to the Western District of Washington—apart from using the stolen identities of its residents to rob the state’s coffers. His only known connection with the United States is his brother (one of 15 siblings) who resides in New York.”
As part of his dubious efforts to escape justice, Mr Rufai lied that his total assets consists of $6,000 in the United States and $10,000 in a Nigerian bank account. However, investigations revealed that a single U.S. bank account in Mr Rufai’s name received $288,825 before he was arrested, POLITICS NIGERIA learnt.
“On October 18, 2018, Mr Rufai emailed [email protected] and inquired, “what i mean is that can you do a master card which i will provide the details and u send me the picture front and back just like you do for drivers license.” Rufai’s email account also contains dozens of order confirmations from the same email address, showing payments in bitcoin,” documents seen by this newspaper explained.
Governor appoints fraudster as aide
POLITICS NIGERIA findings show that Governor Abiodun did not do a thorough research into the character of Mr Rufai before he was appointed as an aide and sworn in.The development further adds credibility to reports that screenings done by the state House of Assembly are ‘questionable’.
This paper learned that he was grilled during screening but no lawmaker could find his lavish lifestyle suspicious. A scrutiny of his online activities revealed Mr Rufai is more active on Instagram, posting pictures of himself and other Ogun government officials. He shared photos of his candidacy for the House of Representatives in 2019. His slogans read: “Ready and Committed to Serve with Trust and Ethics.”
The suspect owns also owns a sports betting organisation named Ecobet, and he is popularly described as “a young business turk,” “a philanthropist of note” and a “gregarious and enterprising dude” among his clicks.
Mr Rufai was arrested by officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), while attempting to leave the U.S. around 7:45 p.m. on May 14. He allegedly bypassed security systems at the Employment Security Department using a simple feature of Google’s free Gmail service.
Mr Rufai’s lawyer, Michael Barrows of Garden City, New York, said his client denied “involvement in these transactions.”
However, Ogun state Governor, Dapo Abiodun has since suspended him from office.