The Government Accountability Office now estimates a total loss across all unemployment insurance programs during the pandemic to be between $100 billion and $135 billion. Which is about 11% to 15% of the total unemployment insurance benefits paid out during the pandemic. Basically, a government-wide fail presumably because the guidance provided by Labor Department to the states was mixed at best. No one did fraud risk management well. Which could be how two Nigerian citizens riding out the pandemic in Canada were able to steal over $2 million from the U.S. taxpayer.
like Sakiru Olanrewaju Ambali and Faiu Ismalia Lawal used the stolen identities of thousands of workers to submit over 1,700 claims for pandemic unemployment benefits to over 25 different states, including Washington State. In total, Ambali and Lawal fraudulently applied for approximately $25 million in claims, but only succeeded in obtaining approximately $2.4 million in pandemic unemployment benefits. Ambali and Lawal had established four internet domain names that they then used for fraud – creating some 800 different email addresses that were used in their schemes.
Unemployment fraud wasn’t the only scheme Ambali and Lawal had attempted. Using the same stolen identities, this duo also tried to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by filing fraudulent income tax returns and the Small Business Administration by filing fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications. But someone in those offices seemed to be paying attention and denied most of those returns and applications.
Excellent job by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force with bringing Ambali and Lawal to justice. Now anything that Ambali and Lawal attempt, will be done in the discomfort of prison.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Toronto men defrauded U.S. government of more than $2M using ‘thousands’ of stolen identities” published by CTV News Toronto on January 4, 2024
Two men from Toronto are facing prosecution abroad after they allegedly stole more than $2 million from the U.S. government. Sakiru Olanrewaju Ambali and Fatiu Ismaila Lawal, both 45 years old, were arrested in February of last year – Ambali by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in Frankfurt, Germany, while en route home to Toronto, and Lawal, by the Toronto Police Service.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the two men used thousands of stolen identities of American workers to submit over 1,700 claims for pandemic unemployment benefits. Police said the accused filed “some 900 claims” to more than 25 different U.S. states using 13 Google accounts, four domains, and an estimated 800 different email addresses.