FBI nabs 3 Nigerians over $1.4m COVID-19 benefit fraud

FBI nabs 3 Nigerians over $1.4m COVID-19 benefit fraud

Three Nigerians have been arrested by the FBI over alleged $1.4 million fraud in the United States of America.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Tuesday, July 21, disclosed how security cameras attached to Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the United States of America helped captured the Nigerian youths who allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $1.4 million (about N580 million) of jobless benefits from the states of Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Maryland.

The suspects, identified in court filings as Quazeem Owolabi Adeyinka, 20, Ayodeji Jonathan Sangode, 22, and Olamide Yusuf Bakare, were nabbed last week, with U.S. authorities saying they stole over $2.6 million in bogus unemployment insurance claims.

According to the FBI, the trio used an address in Hyattsville, Maryland, to rake in about $1.4 million in unemployment benefits from California, Arizona, Maryland, as well as North Carolina.

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The trio also filed about 200 unemployment claims with California’s EDD using a single address on 75th Avenue in Hyattsville; and the department was deceived into approving 97 of the claims; according to a complaint filed by John C. Collins, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mr. Collins said the ring was jointly investigated by the FBI, Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, as well as state law enforcement authorities.

“Based on the size of the apartment; the investigation has concluded that a high number of UI applications associated with this address is unreasonable; and thus an indicator of fraudulent activity. Bank of America records show that 142 UI claim profiles using the 75th Avenue apartment address issued a total of 175 prepaid cards from the states of Arizona, California, Maryland, and North Carolina,” Mr. Collins said in the complaint filed in California.

The funds the young men fraudulently obtained were depleted through purchases; transfers; and ATM cash withdrawals conducted in California, Florida, and also Maryland, according to prosecutors. ATM withdrawals alone amounted to over $989,000.

There were other such withdrawals at different dates in which all three individuals were identified.

Federal authorities said they observed that international scammers and con artists; were taking advantage of the high volume of Covid-19 cheques being sent out to cushion the effect of the pandemic amongst Americans.


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