HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – A man from Nigera was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft and wire fraud for his role in stealing over $197,000 in unemployment insurance funds provided by the 2020 Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to court documents, Daniel Jibunor used a fake debit card under a fake name in September of 2020 to try to purchase $1,850 in Western Union money orders at a Kroger in Bloomington, Indiana. Authorities say a Kroger employee asked to see the bank card, and Jibunor attempted to give a different bank card in his own name.

Police officers were called to the scene, and during their investigation, officers searched Jibunor’s person and vehicle and located two fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance debit cards, two fake debit cards, a GoBank Green Dot card, approximately $12,980 in cash and 21 money orders totaling $19,540. Authorities say the unemployment insurance debit cards had the names of real people, including at least ten victims whose stolen identities were used to file fraudulent unemployment claims.

During an interview, investigators say Jibunor admitted to using unemployment debit cards to obtain money orders for another individual he could not identify. Court documents say Jibunor possessed payment cards loaded with approximately $161,511 in unemployment insurance funds stolen from California and Nevada, and the GoBank Green Dot card was loaded with unemployment insurance funds stolen from the programs in Arizona and Illinois, as well as $36,102 in fraud proceeds associated with an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

The Department of Justice says Jibunor’s criminal conduct resulted in at least $197,613 in actual losses to the unemployment offices in 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. 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.”

In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson also ordered that Jibunor pay $197,613 in restitution and be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 1 year following his release from prison.