According to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, Nigerian nationals Quazeem Owolabi Adeyinka, 22, and Ayodeji Jonathan Sangode, 25, who both currently reside in Maryland, received sentences of 26 months and 14 months in prison for their respective roles in a fraud conspiracy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adeyinka admitted guilt to conspiring to commit wire fraud in November 2022, while Sangode admitted guilt to access device fraud in October 2022. Olamide Yusuf Bakare, 26, a third conspirator, also entered a guilty plea and was given a July 2023 prison term of four years and nine months….CONTINUE READING HERE
Adeyinka, Sangode, Bakare, and others allegedly conspired to make false claims for unemployment insurance (UI) and pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) to the State of California between June 2020 and July 2021, according to court records. The address listed on more than 200 individual applications submitted to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) was the apartment the co-defendants occupied in Hyattsville, Maryland.
The conspirators received the personally identifiable information (PII) of people who were either not eligible for UI or PUA benefits or who had not given them permission to act on their behalf in pursuing those benefits over the course of the conspiracy. Names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers comprised this PII. Following that, the conspirators submitted dozens of false UI and PUA claims to EDD using the supposed claimants’ names and without their consent.
The underlying benefit applications made false claims about the claimants, such as that they had worked for specific employers and supervisors, had a certain annual income, had worked during a certain time period, had been laid off and had no work, had recently lost their jobs as a result of a disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic, and were currently available for employment. Because the claimants were not actually employed, unemployed, or looking for work, the most, if not all, of these claims were false.
These representations were made by conspirators who either knew they were fraudulent or lacked the knowledge and power to do so. Due to these acts, EDD approved false UI and PUA claims.
For each accepted claim, EDD transferred benefit money onto a Bank of America-managed debit card account in the name of the alleged claimant. After that, Bank of America sent fraudulent debit cards by mail to addresses managed by the defendants. Adeyinka and Sangode then obtained these debit cards, together with their PINs, with the help of Bakare and others, and used them to make ATM withdrawals for themselves and other conspirators.
Adeyinka utilized at least 15 debit cards during the scheme, and those cards were connected to bank accounts that received about $237,911 in fraudulent UI and PUA benefits. Adeyinka participated directly in an attempted loss of $793,844. Additionally, the conspiratorial usage of Sangode’s debit cards included at least 53 of them, each of which was connected to a bank account that received about $752,142 in illegal UI and PUA benefits.
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Covid Fraud Unit of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Investigation Division of the California EDD all conducted investigations into this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise N. Yasinow.
One of five interagency COVID-19 fraud strike force teams established by the U.S. Department of Justice, the California COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force is responsible for this initiative. The California Strike Force concentrates on large-scale, multistate pandemic relief fraud committed by criminal groups and international entities. It brings together law enforcement and prosecuting resources in the Eastern and Central Districts of California. The strike forces employ teams directed by prosecutors and driven by data analysts to track down and prosecute those who misappropriated money intended for pandemic relief….CONTINUE READING HERE