CASTRO VALLEY (CBS SF) – A Castro Valley man faces multiple federal charges after prosecutors said he fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in pandemic unemployment benefits.
According to Northern California U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds' office, 46-year-old Idowu Hashim Shittu faces three counts of access device fraud. Shittu made his initial court appearance on Friday.
Prosecutors allege that between March and July of 2020, Shittu used personal information of other people to obtain benefits on at least three occasions.
In the first instance, Shittu allegedly used the birthdate and Social Security number of a resident in Mercer Island, Washington to obtain more than $9,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department. The agency responded to the request and deposited the benefits in an account linked to a reloadable debit card.
Prosecutors said withdrawals from the account were made at ATM machines in the Bay Area and that a man fitting Shittu's description was captured on camera withdrawing cash from the account. The victim told investigators that he was not in California at any time during 2020.
The criminal complaint goes on to list two other instances where personal information from residents in Seattle and Olympia was used to obtain unemployment benefits. Similar to the first case, prosecutors said money deposited to accounts was spent in Bay Area stores and a man matching Shittu's description was photographed making transactions.
"According to the complaint, Shittu fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in unemployment benefits from various state agencies, including the Washington ESD," prosecutors said in a statement.
If convicted, Shittu faces a maximum penalty of up to 15 years for each count.
Prosecutors said Shittu's next scheduled court appearance is on Monday.
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