California man charged with stealing $1M in COVID benefits

January 29, 2022 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California man has been charged with stealing other people’s identity to illegally obtain more than $1 million in unemployment benefits for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Idowu Hashim Shittu, 46, of Castro Valley was charged with three counts of fraud in a federal complaint unsealed Friday.

Prosecutors said he used the personal information of three Washington state residents to request benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act from the state’s Employment Security Department.

After the ESD deposited funds into bank accounts linked to the benefits requests, a person fitting Shittu’s description was seen withdrawing the funds from ATMs in the Bay Area.

Shittu faces up to 15 years in prison for each count if convicted, and he may be ordered to pay restitution, fines and other penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said in a statement.

He was scheduled to make a court appearance on Monday. A call to a phone number listed for Shittu went unanswered.