A Nigerian man was arrested in Washington last week after allegedly trying to leave the country. Abidemi Rufai of Lekki is being charged with stealing more than 100 Washington residents’ identities to make unemployment claims. He allegedly made around $350,000 from the elaborate scheme. Rufai was claiming the benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Q13 Fox.
The complaint alleges that much of the evidence in this matter was located in Rufai’s email account. Special agents requested information regarding the account from Google and were handed over the account recovery SMS phone number, which linked to Rufai. After a judge ordered a search warrant for Rufai’s email account, investigators reported finding evidence of fraud.
Last year, officials announced they were temporarily suspending unemployment benefit payments due to the discovery that criminals had obtained Social Security numbers to begin filing false claims in an attempt to collect benefits.
Tessa Gorman, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, stated that “ This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of Employment Security Department fraud.”
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