ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia man pleaded guilty to wire fraud in cross-country unemployment scheme that was uncovered by accident during a traffic stop.
Osman Kanu, 26, was driving through Arlington when he was pulled over by police on Washignton Boulevard. He allowed police to search his car, in which they found $15,000 in cash, a loaded gun and 15 prepaid VISA debit cards — each of them bearing a different name.
When Kanu was taken to the county lockup, prosecutors say he was warned that calls from the facility would be monitored. But that day, he called an unidentified individual and asked him to remove items from his home, saying, “You gotta do this for me right now.”
A federal investigation revealed that Kanu, who lived in Virginia, had been “accessing darkweb sites” to steal the identities of California residents — including their social security numbers — and filing unemployment claims on their behalf.
At least 15 of those claims were approved, with the funds loaded onto prepaid debit cards and mailed to addresses across California. Kanu then retrieved the cards, or paid someone to do so for him, and reaped the benefits.
Kanu ultimately withdrew around $178,000 in cash from ATMs in Los Angeles and Arlington, and would have been able to steal as much as $628,000 if he had not been caught.
Kanu could now face up to 30 years in prison, but will likely be sentenced to much less.