BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A 31-year-old man from Nigeria has been sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing over $197,000 in unemployment funds provided by the 2020 Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Daniel Jibunor stole at least ten people’s identities and filed fraudulent unemployment claims in four states: California, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois. Jibunor would use the unemployment debit cards to make ATM withdrawals and to purchase money orders at various businesses including Kroger, Walmart and the U.S. Post Office.
Jibunor was eventually caught and arrested on Sept. 11, 2020, at a Bloomington Kroger where he’d been attempting to purchase $1,850 in Western Union money orders under a fake debit card. Bloomington police ended up searching his person and vehicle and found two fake unemployment debit cards, two fake debit cards, a GoBank Green Dot card, approximately $12,980 in cash and 21 money orders totaling $19,540.
In total, Jibunor stole at least $197,613 from the unemployment officers of California, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois as well as the federal government.
“At the height of the global pandemic, this defendant decided to steal emergency funds intended to be a vital lifeline for families in need,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
“Stealing identities and relief money during a disaster is a despicable crime that merits serious punishment,” he added. “The federal prison sentence imposed today demonstrates that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to finding the criminals who have defrauded COVID-19 emergency response programs and holding them accountable.”
As part of his sentencing, Jibunor was ordered to pay the full amount of stolen money back in restitution. He was also ordered to serve one year of probation following his release from federal prison.