A Nigerian national, Bamidele Muraina, 35, has been convicted by a United States of America court for hacking into tax preparation firms and filed a fraudulent unemployment benefit.
Gabriel Kalembo, an ex-convict who laundered the fraudulent assets was also sentenced to four years and two months in prison alongside Muraina.
According to the court, Muraina from Oyo State, hacked into multiple tax preparation and accounting firms located in several states, including a Brunswick, Georgia-based accounting firm and collected tax returns using stolen personally identifiable information.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine told the court that the defendant stole funds from programs meant to assist American workers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Special Agent in Charge, Rafiq Ahmad, Muraina engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the Employment Security Department of Washington State (“ESD-WA”) by filing dozens of fraudulent unemployment insurance (UI).
The defendant claimed the funds in the names of identity theft victims who were not entitled to such benefits.
Convictions of the defendants should serve “as a deterrent to all who intend to exploit the COVID-relief programs that were designated to assist those in need during the pandemic,” a special Agent added.
Muraina was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and he ordered Muraina to pay $561,125.62 in restitution.