The USA has political and social systems in place that have ensure a wide range of freedoms for its citizens. Freedom of speech. Free public education. Right To Work. The U.S. government strives to protect its citizens. To the immigrant’s eye, the United States is an opportunity for security and opportunity not found in their own country. Millions come from all over the world to take a walk on the United States streets of gold. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down, the U.S. government passed an economic relief package like nowhere else in the world. Many immigrants discovered a new freedom. And for some, the freedom to fraud. Which is how Oluwaobit Seton was able to steal roughly $5.5 million from the U.S. taxpayer.
Once the CARES Act was passed in March of 2020, Seton got busy. Using stolen identities, obtained fake driver’s licenses in the victims’ names but with her image. She then opened GoBank accounts to obtain debit cards. The foundation was set for a multi-million dollar scheme. At the time of her arrest, Seton had over 1,400 GoBank cards and ten driver’s licenses with different names in her possession.
With the help of her friends in Nigeria, Seton submitted false and fraudulent employment applications to unemployment agencies throughout the United States in the victims’ names. She had the stolen benefits monies deposited into their fraudulent GoBank accounts and onto debit cards. In total, Seton stole almost $5.5 million in fraudulent CARES act benefits. She herself kept about $550,000 as a portion of the proceeds. The rest went to family and friends in Nigeria. While the United States may have been overzealous in issuing pandemic related aid, the U.S. justice department is exceptional in catching the fraudster. On August 11, 2023, Seton was sentenced to more than five years in prison for COVID-19 fraud.
Great job by the U.S. Immigration Department in this case.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Bloomington woman sentenced to federal prison for $5.5 million COVID benefit scam” published by WTHR Staff on August 11, 2023
A Bloomington woman has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for her involvement in a $5.5 million international COVID fraud scheme. Oluwatobi Seton, 28, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, Seton, along with co-conspirators based in Nigeria, obtained unemployment and other benefits during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seton and her co-conspirators defrauded state and federal governments by falsely applying for benefits using stolen identities.