Maryland man sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for Covid-19, unemployment, insurance and aggravated identity theft schemes | USAO-MD

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher sentenced Idowu Raji, 40, of Baltimore County, Maryland, to 94 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit fraud on access devices, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with multiple financial schemes. The court also ordered Raji to pay $1,793,472 in restitution.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge Selwyn Smith of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Lewis of the US Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Washington Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Troy Springer, Washington Regional Office, United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; and Postal Inspector in Charge Greg L. Torbenson of the United States Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.

According to his guilty plea, in 2020 Raji conspired with several others to defraud, use and tamper with unauthorized access devices and obtain over $900,000 in unemployment insurance and other COVID-19 related benefits. Additionally, from October 2018 to November 2020, Raji conspired with several individuals, including 35-year-old Adewumi Abioye of Randallstown, Maryland and 37-year-old Lukman Salam of Delaware to defraud several businesses, individuals and financial institutions in order to illegally obtain over $750,000.

As part of the Access Device conspiracy, Raji admitted to arranging the delivery of fraudulent unemployment insurance cards to his co-conspirators, providing instructions on how to use the cards, and obtaining a portion of the fraudulently obtained proceeds. In total, Raji admitted he was involved in fraudulent unemployment claims that used the identities of more than 50 real people and caused more than $900,000 in losses to state and federal governments.

Raji admitted to using an encrypted text messaging app to commit his crimes, including coordinating the use of unemployment insurance and benefits related to COVID-19, obtaining and transferring the personal identification information of real people and receive unemployment debit cards that have been mailed. to addresses in Maryland and charged with fraudulently obtained benefits. Raji also ordered the use of the fraudulently obtained debit cards to conduct transactions at POS and ATMs. He also used federal and state disaster relief funds for his own benefit.

As part of his wire fraud plot, co-conspirators Salam and Abioye used false identity documents to open bank accounts, which Raji then coordinated the use of the accounts to receive the proceeds of the fraud. For example, in November 2019, Salam opened a bank account at a financial institution using a fake passport with the pseudonym “Chris Hobert”. In December 2019, the email account of a supervisor of a victim company was hacked and an email was sent to the victim company which fraudulently claimed that another company had changed its payment instructions. As a result, the victim company sent a transfer of $33,200 to a fraudulent account opened by Salam. Raji worked with his co-conspirators to transfer the funds to another account registered under the pseudonym “Michael Stone” and ultimately gain access to the proceeds of the fraud.

Additionally, in July 2020, Raji fraudulently applied for a $31,200 Paycheck Protection Program loan on behalf of a company, Yours Truly LLC. Raji claimed that his business recorded over $132,000 in gross revenue in the previous year when in fact that was not the case. Moreover, Raji failed to spend the loan proceeds on employee salaries and other appropriate expenses required by the PPP loan.

As noted in his plea agreement, when Raji was arrested by federal agents in November 2020, he made several false statements to the agents, including that he had never been involved in work email compromise schemes, wire fraud or unemployment insurance fraud. Raji also falsely claimed that he had never used Yours Truly LLC despite having received federal loans through the entity less than six months prior to the interview.

In April and May 2022, co-defendants Abioye and Salam were sentenced to 27 months and 30 months in federal prison; respectively for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Hameed Adesokan, Olatunde Vincent, Akolade Ojo and Damilola Lawal will be sentenced later this year in related cases.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the complaint form online from NCDF at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) The Fraud Task Force was created to serve the American public by promoting transparency and facilitating coordinated oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRAC’s Fraud Task Force brings together officers from its 22 member inspectors general to investigate fraud involving various programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. Task Force officers who are seconded to the PRAC are given expanded authority to investigate pandemic fraud as well as tools and training to support their investigations.

U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI, DSS, the U.S. Department of Labor-OIG, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry M. Gruber, who prosecuted the case.

For more information about the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md.

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