Houston/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 21, 2024
Houston Man Sentenced to Nearly 4 Years in Prison for COVID-19 Stimulus Check FraudSource: Google Street View

A Houston man has found himself on the wrong side of the law after being sentenced for fraudulently taking another person's COVID-19 stimulus check. Ndem Oduu, 50, was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison, as announced by U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. The Economic Impact Payments were part of the federal government's response to the financial distress caused by the pandemic, and Oduu's case serves as a stark reminder of the legal consequences of such fraud.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Oduu had admitted on March 14 to stealing a stimulus check worth $1,200. In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Eskridge ordered that he serves three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $1,867. Documents found in Oduu's apartment revealed extensive efforts to defraud the government through fraudulent loans, and tax credits — underscoring the premeditated nature of his crimes.

During the sentencing, Judge Eskridge expressed a hope that "Oduu would lead a productive life upon release," which reflects the court's broader perspective on rehabilitation. Oduu has remained in custody and will be transferred to a U.S Bureau of Prisons facility, though the specific location has not yet been disclosed.

The Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation into Oduu's activities. With Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman prosecuting the case, it's another example of authorities cracking down on COVID-19 related fraud, which, unfortunately took various forms throughout the pandemic.