A Nigerian politician has been arrested on charges he fraudulently claimed unemployment benefits in the US by stealing the identities of more than 100 people.

Abidemi Rufai – an aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state – was arrested last Friday and is accused of stealing more than $350,000 (£246,000) in Covid-19 unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department, the US justice ministry said in a statement.

He is scheduled for a detention hearing on Wednesday.

The Ogun state government has not commented on his arrest.

Mr Rufai, 42, allegedly used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims between March and August last year. The US authorities say more than $288,000 was deposited into a bank account controlled by him.

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The justice ministry said Mr Rufai used “variations of a single e-mail address in a manner intended to evade automatic detection by fraud systems.

“By using this practice, Rufai made it appear that each claim was connected with a different email account.”

He is also accused of filing such claims in Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

He faces up 30 years in prison as the allegations against him are connected with a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency, such as the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said.

Mr Rufai has run for political office in the past, seeking a seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives in 2019.

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Source BBC

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