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$350k fraud: US court sentences Abidemi Rufai, suspended aide of Ogun state governor, to five years in prison

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A United States district court has sentenced Abidemi Rufai, suspended aide of Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun, to five years in prison for fraud.

Rufai was arrested at New York’s JFK Airport on his way to Nigeria in May 2021.

In May 2022, the US department of justice said Rufai admitted using stolen identities to receive thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

He was also admitted to have since 2017 obtained identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans, submitted $2 million in claims for disaster relief and other federal benefits, and received more than $600,000.

The largest amount of fraud was committed against the Washington state employment security department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to accounts controlled by Rufai.

Rufai was also said to have submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states including Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

In asking for a nearly six-year prison sentence Cindy Chang, assistant United States attorney stated that Rufai’s scam hurt actual people who needed assistance.

“In this case, Rufai successfully used the stolen identities of at least 238 real individuals who qualified for disaster aid and may have needed it urgently. This number does not account for the number of stolen identities Rufai attempted to use but failed,” she said.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Benjamin H. Settle, US district judge said: “The motivation was greed, unrestrained greed, and a callousness towards those who have suffered.”

Nick Brown, US attorney said “Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud.”

“He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses. But when disaster struck, so did Mr. Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States.”

According to a statement by the US department of justice, 45-year-old Rufai “has agreed to pay full restitution of $604,260 to the defrauded agencies”.

However, the statement added that “he has not fully cooperated with efforts to identify and forfeit assets that could be used for restitution”.

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Crime

EFCC arrests 19-year-old boy for defrauding British citizen of £450k

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested one Iredia Endurance, identified as a 19-year-old, over alleged fraud.

According to the anti-graft agency, Endurance allegedly defrauded one Christine Brown, a British citizen, of the sum of £450,000.

EFCC, in a statement on Tuesday, said Endurance was arrested by its Benin zonal command following a petition by Brown.

The anti-graft agency said the suspect confessed that he received the money in Bitcoin and gift cards.

“Endurance, who claimed to be 19 years old, was recently arrested by the commission sequel to a petition by one Christine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000,” EFCC said.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx, and gift cards.

“On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expended on cars, gold chains, landed properties, among others.

“Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.

“The suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

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Crime

Bill Cosby accused of sexually assaulting five women in new lawsuit

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Bill Cosby, the US actor and comedian, has been sued by five women who claimed he drugged and sexually assaulted them during their early stage in show business.

According to TMZ, the women — most of whom were involved with ‘The Cosby Show’ — filed a lawsuit against the actor for allegedly being a predator instead of a mentor to them.

In the suit, Lili Bernard, one of the plaintiffs, claimed Cosby drugged and raped her multiple times.

She also alleged he once threatened to “destroy her” if she reports to the US authority.

Others, in their separate accounts, claimed Cosby either assaulted or forced himself on them.

The plaintiffs also sued the company who helped produce the show — NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Kaufman Astoria Studios and The Carsey-Werner Company — for failing to protect them despite knowing about the alleged sexual assault.

Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, denied the allegations.

He also described the lawsuit as a “frivolous” one that is about money and not justice.

“As we have always stated and now America see that this isn’t about justice for victims of alleged sexual assault but it’s all about money,” he said.

“We believe that the courts as well as the court of public opinion will follow the rules of law and relieve Mr. Cosby of these alleged accusations. Mr. Cosby continues to vehemently deny all allegations waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.”

The ace comedian has been accused by several women of sexual assault over the years. He has, however, denied all the charges.

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Crime

Senator Sani Musa escapes assassination, four suspects arrested (Video)

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Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen in his Minna residence, the Niger State Capital.

It was gathered that the incident happened on Saturday night, just as the suspected assailants were said to have trailed the Senator who is seeking his second term into the Senate in 2023 from Abuja to his residence along the popular old Alheri Clinic road, Tunga area in Minna.

Unknown to the assailants, Senator Musa had returned to Abuja in the afternoon before they invaded the house in the night.

Although the state police command was yet to issue a statement on the development as at the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the suspected assailants secured the services of two people, fully armed and in Military uniform who accompanied them to the residence of the Senator at about 8:00pm.

According to the source, the two suspects in Military uniform had mounted surveillance at the entrance gate to the Senator’s house while the four others in civilian dresses entered the house after they had identified themselves to the Policemen at the gate that they were from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) Abuja on a search mission.

According to a source close to the Senator’s house, the suspects had told the policemen at the gate that they received information that there were stockpiled arms and ammunition, including some foreign currencies in the Senator’s house.

They immediately dispossessed the Policemen of their mobile phones, attempting to enter the house before luck ran out of them when information got to a close ally of the Senator who is the Special Adviser to Governor Sani Bello on political matter, Alhaji Nma Kolo that some armed men had stormed the Senator’s house.

On receiving the distress call, the governor’s aide immediately alerted the APC Governorship Candidate in the state, Alhaji Umar Bago who mobilized and bravely stormed the house that night where the suspects were rounded up.

It was also gathered that the suspects had lodged in a hotel in Minna ahead of the attack on the law maker’s house as the motive for the action was still unknown as at the time of filing this report.

Saturday’s episode is the second of such attack on the Senator Musa ‘a house targeting him. The first was attack in his Minna residence and that was about two years ago when some armed men, in a similar manner invaded his residence but did not meet him.

The State Commissioner for Internal Security and Humanitarian Affairs, Emmanuel Umar who confirmed the incident, said that the Police was on top of the situation and some arrests have been made to that effect.

He however appealed to the public to remain calm, saying that further details on the incident would be made public by the Police.

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