Social Media As A Weapon

Unemployment insurance form on a table.

Research by Global WebIndex shows that 58.4% of the world’s population uses social media with average daily usage at 2 hours and 27 minutes (January 2022). The power of social media brings the ability to connect and share information with anyone on Earth, or with many people simultaneously. The content and purposes are varied, diverse, and as we all know many times exaggerated. In the case of Nigerian born Oluwaseyi Akinyemi, social media was a weapon and he used it in a scheme to steal from the elderly in the U.S. But while he took advantage of the elderly in one scheme, he stole unemployment benefits in another scheme. On July 13, 2022, Akinyemi pled guilty to both elder fraud and COVID-19 unemployment fraud.

In July 2018 to April 2019, Akinyemi and his co-conspirators in Nigeria, targeted elderly victims on social media platforms, representing themselves as agents of U.S. government agencies and offered non-existent financial rewards if the victims first sent cash to him. Believing they would receive a financial reward, up to 13 victims mailed combined a total of $478,145 to Akinyemi who provided them aliases such as “Paddy Linkin” and “Flex”.  At least five victims suffered a substantial financial hardship because of the money that was fraudulently obtained by Akinyemi.

It was bad enough going after a few of the U.S. elderly, but Akinyemi went bigger and took advantage of a U.S. program during a worldwide crisis. Beginning in December 2020, Akinyemi also illegally obtained unemployment and CARES Act COVID-19 related benefits by filing fraudulent unemployment claims in the names of living and deceased victims from Maryland and Arizona. Akinyemi used his address as well as the home address of a Washington D.C. client to whom Akinyemi provided at-home nursing care services to receive the fraudulent unemployment insurance debit cards in the mail. In total, Akinyemi and his co-conspirators used the identities of 19 individuals with the loss of $250,000 in state and federal benefits.

Great job by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Fraud Task Force with this investigation and preventing Akinyemi from bringing more harm.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article in Thengozi Media on July 14, 2022

US court sentences Nigerian man to 8yrs imprisonment for defrauding Americans

United States district judge, Theodore D. Chuang, on Wednesday, has sentenced a Nigerian man, Oluwaseyi Akinyemi, popularly known as “Paddy Linkin” to eight years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, two counts of mail fraud relating to a social media advanced fee fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims.

Judge Chuang also ordered 35-year-old Akinyemi, a resident of Hyattsville, Maryland to pay $486,119.07 in restitution to his victims.The ruling was published by the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland on Wednesday.


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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.