Nigerian woman convicted of defrauding Social Security Administration and FEMA out of nearly $1 million | USAO-NDGA

ATLANTA — Ivie Shevon Sajere has been convicted for her role in a conspiracy that defrauded the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) out of nearly $1,000,000. The conspiracy involved the false filing of thousands of online applications for SSA retirement benefits and FEMA disaster benefits using stolen personal information.

“This was a massive fraud that affected two government agencies and injured thousands of victims across the country whose identities were stolen,” U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said. “Sajere’s prison sentence is the culmination of a complicated investigation and prosecution and serves as a cautionary tale for other like-minded fraudsters.”

“This sentence holds Sajere accountable for his role in this complex plot to defraud the Social Security Administration, single-handedly, of nearly seven hundred thousand dollars. She stole personal information from innocent people and used it to defraud the SSA by abusing its online services,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of the Social Security Administration. “My office will continue to uphold the integrity of the SSA’s online services and programs that so many Americans rely on. I thank the United States Postal Inspection Service, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and other law enforcement agencies for joining us in this in-depth investigation. I also thank the US Attorney’s Office for pursuing this case.

“Anyone with malicious intent can cause significant harm to victims, and in this case, the defendant orchestrated an identity theft spree that resulted in the defrauding of two agencies that provide substantial assistance to people in the need,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division, United States Postal Inspection Service. “This program underscores the importance of national collaboration in the fight against identity theft, and I thank our law enforcement partners for their critical assistance in this investigation.”

According to US attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented to the court: From approximately June 2017 to September 2018, the defendant and her husband, Neville Sajere, both Nigerian nationals who engaged in a fraudulent marriage in an attempt unsuccessful to become U.S. citizens, participated in a money laundering scheme that defrauded SSA and FEMA of nearly $1 million.

The scheme involved unknown fraudsters filing claims for Social Security retirement benefits and FEMA disaster relief benefits using stolen personal information. The individual victims whose personal information was stolen were often highly recognized people in their field. It appears that these people were targeted because, although they were of retirement age, they had not applied for SSA pension benefits and were not in need of disaster assistance. Thus, fraudsters were more likely to have applications approved. Among the victims were a film director, an award-winning journalist, the daughter of a legendary film director and a highly regarded academic.

Once a request was approved, the fraudsters ordered the funds to be deposited into an opened Green Dot debit card using other stolen personal information. As soon as the money reached the Green Dot debit card, the defendant generated payments via Square, Stripe and PayPal to Nevada Bridge TV, a Nigerian streaming service/TV production company owned by the defendant’s husband; BAGMA, an African gospel awards show business owned by the defendant’s husband; and Shevonz, a clothing store owned by the defendant.

Ivie Shevon Sajere (aka Ivie Shevon Owubo), 38, Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., to two years and six months in prison. She was also ordered to pay $949,616.40 in restitution to the SSA and FEMA. Sajere was remanded in custody at the end of the sentencing hearing to begin her sentence. As Sajere is not a citizen of the United States, she faces deportation after serving her sentence. Sajere pleaded guilty on November 30, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to launder money.

This matter was investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, and the US Postal Inspection Service.

Special Assistant US Attorney Diane C. Schulman and Assistant US Attorney Samir Kaushal prosecuted the case.

For more information, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Public Affairs at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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