Richard Ginika Izuora
In the US, operatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, have nabbed three young Nigerians allegedly involved in over $2.6 million bogus unemployment insurance claims.
The FBI, disclosed how security cameras attached to Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the US captured the suspects who allegedly obtained more than $1.4 million (about N580 million) of jobless benefits from the states of Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Maryland.
The suspects, were identified as Quazeem Owolabi Adeyinka, 20, Ayodeji Jonathan Sangode, 22, and Olamide Yusuf Bakare.
According to the FBI, the suspects 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.
The three 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 they stole were depleted through purchases; transfers; and ATM cash withdrawals conducted in California, Florida, and also Maryland, according to prosecutors with the ATM withdrawals alone amounting to over $989,000.
The authorities investigated and found that 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.