Covid-19 benefits scam: EFCC arraigns Ibadan club owner for allegedly defrauding Americans
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Command on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 arraigned the owner of Ibadan-based Club, De Rock Club, Adepoju Olawale Sunday alias SSG before Justice Uche Agomoh of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State on two separate charges for his alleged involvement in cybercrime and obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of N31, 821, 000.00 (Thirty One Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty One Thousand Naira).
The first charge, containing eight counts, bordering 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.
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 American government and unsuspecting American citizens thousands of dollars.
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He allegedly stole identities of the 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 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 remand the defendant pending the determination of the case.
However, 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.
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However, 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.