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Bloomington woman sentenced 5 years for $5.5 million international COVID fraud scheme

A judge's gavel on a white background. (Photo by Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Bloomington woman was sentenced to over five years in federal prison after stealing nearly $5.5 million in an international COVID fraud scheme.

Oluwatobi Seton, 28, was sentenced to 5-1/2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, Seton conspired with partners in Nigeria to obtain unemployment and other benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic from state and federal governments by falsely applying for benefits using the stolen identities of others.

Seton and her co-conspirators used stolen information from their victims to open GoBank accounts and received debit cards connected to those accounts. The conspirators then submitted false and fraudulent employment applications to unemployment agencies throughout the U.S. in the victims’ names and stolen benefits deposited into their GoBank accounts and onto debit cards.

Seton then used fake driver’s licenses in the victims’ names to access the process of the fraud 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, court docs say.

In total, the conspiracy resulted in at least $5,475,459 in actual and attempted losses to state unemployment offices and other state and federal agencies. Police say Seton kept a portion of the money for herself and sent the remainder to her conspirators, including her business partners in Nigeria.

Investigators seized over $550,000 in cash and GoBank accounts linked to the scheme during the investigation.

“This international criminal enterprise conspired to steal millions of dollars meant to help our citizens as we fought through the unprecedented pandemic. Fraudsters like this defendant who sought to exploit the urgent need to provide pandemic relief must be held accountable. I commend the work of our partners at the FBI, Bloomington Police Department, and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, along with our federal prosecutors, to identify criminals like this defendant and ensure that they pay the price for their crimes.”

United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers, said in a release

Seton was sentenced to serve one year of probation following her release and must pay restitution of $4,309,070.

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