Maryland man admits coordinating Covid-19, unemployment, insurance and aggravated identity theft programs | USAO-MD
BaltimoreMaryland – Idowu Raji, 40, of Baltimore County, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit access device fraud, access device fraud and identity theft aggravated in connection with several financial schemes.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Lewis of the US Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Washington Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Troy W. Springer, Washington Regional Office, United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; and, Postal Inspector in Charge Greg L. Torbenseon of the United States Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.
“Raji participated in the theft of US personal identifying information from over 50 unsuspecting Americans and caused at least $1 million in COVID-19 fraud for his financial benefit,” US Attorney Barron said. “Our office remains committed to bringing justice to anyone who fraudulently obtains disaster relief funds to line their pockets and deprive American citizens in their time of need.”
“The diplomatic security service is satisfied with this guilty plea. These hard-fought convictions send a clear message that criminals who commit passport and visa fraud for improper purposes will be punished,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Lewis of the DSS Washington Field Office. “DSS, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our other federal partners, is committed to rooting out and prosecuting criminal enterprises involving U.S. travel documents.”
According to his guilty plea, in 2020 Raji conspired with others to defraud, use and traffic unauthorized access devices and obtain over $900,000 in unemployment insurance and other COVID-related benefits. -19. Additionally, from October 2018 to November 2020, Raji conspired with multiple accused persons in the District of Maryland to defraud multiple businesses, individuals, and financial institutions to illegally obtain over $750,000.
As part of the Access Device conspiracy, Raji admitted to arranging the delivery of fraudulent unemployment insurance cards to his co-conspirators, providing instructions on how to use the cards, and obtaining a portion of the fraudulently obtained proceeds. In total, Raji admitted he was involved in fraudulent unemployment claims that used the identities of more than 50 real people and caused more than $900,000 in losses to state and federal governments.
Raji admitted to using an encrypted text messaging app to commit his crimes, including coordinating the use of unemployment insurance and benefits related to COVID-19, obtaining and transferring the personal identification information of real people and receive unemployment debit cards that have been mailed. to addresses in Maryland and charged with fraudulently obtained benefits. Raji also ordered the use of the fraudulently obtained debit cards to conduct transactions at POS and ATMs. He also used federal and state disaster relief funds for his own benefit.
As part of his wire fraud plot, Raji’s co-conspirators used false identity documents to open bank accounts, which Raji then coordinated the use of the accounts to receive the proceeds of the fraud. For example, in November 2019, a co-conspirator opened a bank account at a financial institution using a fake passport with the pseudonym “Chris Hobert”. In December 2019, the email account of a supervisor of a victim company was hacked and an email was sent to the victim company which fraudulently claimed that another company had changed its payment instructions. As a result, the victim company wired $33,200 to a fraudulent account opened by one of Raji’s co-conspirators. Raji worked with his co-conspirators to transfer the funds to another account registered under the pseudonym “Michael Stone” and ultimately gain access to the proceeds of the fraud.
Additionally, in July 2020, Raji fraudulently applied for a $31,200 Paycheck Protection Program loan on behalf of a company, Yours Truly LLC. Raji claimed that his business recorded over $132,000 in gross revenue in the previous year when in fact that was not the case. Moreover, Raji failed to spend the loan proceeds on employee salaries and other appropriate expenses required by the PPP loan.
As noted in his plea agreement, when Raji was arrested by federal agents in November 2020, he made several false statements to the agents, including that he had never been involved in work email compromise schemes, wire fraud or unemployment insurance fraud. Raji also falsely claimed that he had never used Yours Truly LLC despite having received federal loans through the entity less than six months prior to the interview.
As part of his plea deal, Raji will be ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution.
Raji faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit access device fraud, a maximum of ten years in prison for access device fraud and a mandatory minimum of two years consecutive to any other sentence. imposed for the aggravated identity theft conviction. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher has sentenced May 20, 2022, at 10 a.m.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) The Fraud Task Force was created to serve the American public by promoting transparency and facilitating coordinated oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRAC’s Fraud Task Force brings together officers from its 22 member inspectors general to investigate fraud involving various programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. Task Force officers who are seconded to the PRAC are given expanded authority to investigate pandemic fraud as well as tools and training to support their investigations.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HSI, DSS, U.S. Department of Labor-OIG, and U.S. Postal Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry M. Gruber, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information about the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md.
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