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Abidemi Rufai

Surety provided by governor’s aide is suspected fraudster, says U.S. court

The United States Department of Justice has written to the United States Magistrate Judge in Eastern District of New York, Ramon Reyes, claiming that the surety provided by Abidemi Rufai, is a suspected fraudster.

Rufai is an aide of Governor of Ogun State, Mr. Dapo Abiodun. He was arrested for alleged fraud of $350,000.

The Acting U.S. Attorney, Tessa Gorma, in a letter on Sunday, said the “surety is suspect in an investigation into an email impersonation scheme.”

A report by online newspapers PremiumTimes said the surety, Nekpen Soyemi, a registered nurse, whose family comes from Nigeria, told the court that she would guarantee the $300,000 bond and allow Rufai to stay at her and her husband’s home.

However, the Magistrate Judge, Mr Reyes, delayed the release of Rufai until May 25 to give enough time to federal prosecutors to appeal the order.

The Acting U.S. Attorney, Ms Gorma, said in her letter to the court that Ms Soyemi is a suspected fraudster and should not be allowed to stand surety for Rufai.

“First, the FBI has conducted research into the Surety and has learned information indicating that the Surety is not an appropriate person to perform that role,” the letter partly read.

“In 2015, the Surety’s bank (Bank of America) issued a report naming the Surety as a suspect in an investigation into an email impersonation scheme.

“According to the bank’s report, a person purporting to be a donor deposited $134,000 into the bank account of a legitimate nonprofit. The “donor” (who was never identified) then contacted the non-profit and stated that some of the deposited funds were intended for a different recipient.

“The donor asked the non-profit to wire the excess funds to three different accounts, one of which was a Bank of America account in the Surety’s name. The report indicates that the Surety then made cash withdrawals of the proceeds at two different B of A locations. The Surety did not respond to inquiries from Bank of America.

“Second, FBI’s research was unable to confirm that the Surety owns the listed real property. Mortgage and deed records for the property indicate that it was last purchased by an individual with the initials L.S.G. on November 7, 2014.”

She further said that the FBI could not locate records showing that the Surety has an interest in the property.

“The Surety has also submitted records showing that she has $335 in Robinhood investment account and $1,838 in a checking account. Neither submission suggests the Surety is in a position to secure a $300,000 bond.”

The U.S. government earlier told the court that it is dangerous to release Rufai on bail, claiming the suspect presents an extreme risk of flight and “if he does escape to Nigeria, extradition will be extraordinarily difficult or impossible because of his ties to the Nigerian government.”

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