COVID-19 benefits scam: EFCC arraigns Ibadan club owner for ‘defrauding’ Americans

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned the owner of Ibadan-based club, De Rock Club, Adepoju Olawale Sunday alias SSG over N31.821 million fraud.

According to an EFCC statement, Adepoju was arraigned by the Ibadan Zonal Command before Justice Uche Agomoh of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, today on two separate charges for his alleged involvement in cybercrime and obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of N31.821 million.

The first charge, containing eight counts, borders on identity theft, obtaining COVID – 19 and unemployment benefits from the United States of America Government, while the other 19- count charge is premised on transfer of proceeds of crime to one Owoade Emmanuel David.

Read Also: Charms, exotic cars, gadgets recovered as EFCC nabs 23 fraudsters in Enugu

The commission said its investigations revealed that Adepoju, 36, who claimed to be a graduate of Industrial Chemistry of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Osun State had, during the COVID – 19 pandemic, swindled the American government and unsuspecting American citizens thousands of dollars.

He allegedly stole identities of American citizens eligible for the tax refund programme across the U.S and filed the stolen information to claim the benefits.

“Investigations also showed that Adepoju through the US Small Business Administration (SBA), a programme established in New York City during Covid-19 to help Americans build resilient businesses, stole personal identifying information of American citizens which he deployed in filing false benefits claims,” the EFCC said.

However, the defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charges were read to him.

Consequently, the prosecution counsel, Mabas Mabur asked the court for a trial date and the remand of the defendant pending the determination of the case.

Counsel to the defendant, Olaniyi George informed the court that he has filed two separate bail applications on behalf of his client and prayed the court to grant the defendant bail.

Responding, Mabur told the court to reject the applications on the grounds that the defendant is a flight risk who has pending charges against him in other law courts.

Justice Agomoh, adjourned the matter till April 18, 2023 for ruling and ordered that the defendant be remanded in the Agodi Correctional facility.

“The defendant was arrested on August 31, 2022, alongside 21 other suspected internet fraudsters, in an intelligence-driven operation carried out by the operatives of the Ibadan Zonal Command of the EFCC.

“He was arrested with a 2020 Range Rover HSE Sports Utility Vehicle, an iPhone 13 Pro Max and Hp laptop, among others,” the EFCC said.

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