Court documents have given more insights into how Abidemi Rufai, the suspended aide of Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, allegedly defrauded Washington State Employment Security Department of $350,000 using 10 different means.
PUNCH reports that in the documents it obtained Rufai was said to have submitted over 100 claims to the department, and had also submitted additional claims to the state workforce agencies for other states.
The Nigerian reportedly carried out the scheme by using the stolen identities of American workers.
The document further stated that Rufai and other co-conspirators started the act no later than on or about April 27, 2020, and continuing through at least on or about June 2, 2020, at Olympia, within the Western District of Washington, and elsewhere.
As listed in the documents, the manner in which the alleged acts were perpetrated are:
– RUFAI and his co-conspirators unlawfully obtained, possessed and shared with one another the PII of residents of Washington and other states, including their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers.
– RUFAI and his co-conspirators created email accounts, including an account administered by Google Inc., (“Google”) with the address “email@example.com,” for the purpose of participating in fraudulent transactions while obscuring their identities.
– RUFAI and his co-conspirators, using foreign and interstate wire transmissions, accessed ESD’s SAW portal, as well as similar portals of other SWAs, including SWAs for the states of Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Each time RUFAI or a co-conspirator accessed the Washington SAW portal, he or she caused wire transmissions terminating and originating at the State Data Center in Olympia, Washington.
– To establish SAW accounts, RUFAI and his co-conspirators provided the firstname.lastname@example.org email address to ESD as the designated email address to receive activation emails. Each time RUFAI or a co-conspirator input this email address into the SAW system, an activation email was sent to the email@example.com email account.
– Each of these emails was sent via an interstate wire transmission originating from the State Data Center in Olympia, Washington and passing through a Google data center outside the state of Washington.
– To prevent ESD and other SWAs from recognizing that the same email account was being used to file multiple claims, RUFAI and his co-conspirators used dozens of variants of the email address by placing periods at different locations within the email address for each claim. For example, RUFAI opened SAW accounts and submitted claims using the variants “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,”
– In routing emails to a Gmail account, Google disregards periods within the email address (e.g., “firstname.lastname@example.org” is routed to the same account as “johndoe@gmaiLcom”). As a result, Google delivered all of these emails (and any similar “dot variants” of the same address) to the email@example.com account. By using these email address variants, RUFAI and his co-conspirators were able to file multiple claims using the same email account, without BSD and other SWAs detecting that they were doing so.
– When completing the applications, RUFAI and his co-conspirators directed that some of the benefits be paid to online payment accounts, including accounts administered by the Green Dot Corporation. In other cases, RUFAI and his co- conspirators directed that the fraudulent benefit payments be made to bank accounts controlled by persons known as “money mules,” who withdrew and transferred the funds according to instructions given by RUFAI and his co-conspirators.
– RUFAI and his co-conspirators directed the money mules to send a portion of the proceeds to the residence of RUFAI’ s brother in Jamaica, New York, where RUFAI was then staying.
– The wire fraud that was the object of this conspiracy occurred in relation to, and involved, benefit payments authorized, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, and paid in connection with the presidentially declared major disaster and emergency.