Nigerian jailed in US for stealing from COVID-19 relief fund

The convict exploited a federal COVID-19 pandemic relief program to receive more than $280,000.

The convict has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison (image used for illustrative purpose) [PBS]

A Nigerian has been convicted in the United States for fraudulent schemes that defrauded individuals, businesses, and the government.

Bamidele Muraina hacked into tax preparation firms and filed fraudulent unemployment benefit claims, and tax returns using stolen personally identifiable information.

He filed more than 275 fraudulent individual income tax returns using stolen identities to ask for refunds from the IRS exceeding $2.6 million from 2018 through 2020.

The convict also used stolen information to submit false claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Washington.

The 35-year-old exploited a federal COVID-19 pandemic relief program to receive more than $280,000 from the State of Washington over a one-week span in May 2020.

Muraina, a native of Oyo State, recruited one Gabriel Kalembo, a previously convicted fraudster, to launder the fraudulent assets.

"The conspirators not only stole from the government but also victimised individuals and private businesses in this case," IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, James E. Dorsey, said.

U.S. District Judge, William M. Ray II, sentenced Muraina to five years and 10 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

The convict was also ordered to pay $561,125.62 in restitution.

Kalembo was also sentenced to four years and two months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $298,008.71 in restitution.

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