How ATM cameras caught three Nigerians in alleged $1.4m unemployment fraud in America

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Three Nigerians whose indictments were recently unveiled in a California court by US prosecutors, who allege that the trio stole more than $1.4 million in jobless benefits from the US states of Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Maryland.

 

The men—Quazeem Owolabi Adeyinka, 20; Ayodeji Jonathan Sangode, 22; and Olamide Yusuf Bakare—filed for unemployment benefits more than 200 times from the four states, all using two addresses in Hyattsville, Maryland, documents say.

Adeyinka

Agents have determined that at least Adeyinka and Sangode are currently the residents of one of the addresses, which has been another location of criminal activity including unemployment fraud for much of 2020 and 2021. Bakare, in a separate case in 2019, had pled guilty to identity fraud.

Sangode

The 26-page indictment seen by Nigeria Abroad says the Nigerians also filed for fraudulent unemployment claims in the states of Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

Bakare

Unlike the other four states, these states do not necessarily use Bank of America (BofA) to disperse their Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds and thus their benefit payouts would not be reflected in the BofA data provided to the investigation.

BofA records show that 175 prepaid cards worth more than $1.4 million total—$158,000 of which came from Maryland—were sent to the accused’s addresses.

The funds were depleted through purchases, transfers, and ATM cash withdrawals conducted in California, Florida, and Maryland, according to prosecutors. ATM withdrawals alone amounted to over $989,000.

 

According to BofA’s footage, Sangode’s Hyundai (MD license plate 3DS7400) was surveilled at a BofA drive-through ATM located at 3413 Kenilworth Ave, Hyattsville, Maryland. The driver of the vehicle resembles Sangode based on a comparison using his MD driver’s license photo, the indictment says.

 

BofA records also show that, on or about July 19, 2020, an individual appearing to be Adeyinka based on a comparison with his driver’s license photo, withdrew $1,000 cash using BofA-EDD debit card ending in 2312 in the name of K.K. at the Landover Hills Bank of America ATM located at 7515 Annapolis Road, Hyattsville, Maryland.

 

More BofA records show that, on or around July 5, 2020, an individual appearing to be Bakare based on his driver’s license photo withdrew cash using the 7990 BofA-EDD debit card at a BofA ATM located at 10200 Lake Arbor Way, Mitchellville, Maryland.

There were series of other such withdrawals at different dates involving different volumes, in which all three individuals were identified.

Angie Barnett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland, said some sources estimate this type of fraud has gone up 3,000% since the coronavirus pandemic and catching and prosecuting these criminals is tough.

“The bad people are capitalizing on the grief and the fragility of our society,” Barnett said. “We’re emotional, we’re fragile and our financial care and concern, and scammers take advantage of that.”

 

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