The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) logo. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Justice)

Federal authorities have filed charges against a Castro Valley man, alleging he committed fraud by scheming to obtain more than $1 million in pandemic-related unemployment benefits from multiple state agencies.

The criminal complaint, announced Friday, says 46-year-old Idowu Hashim Shittu tried using other people’s personal information to get pandemic relief money.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Nothern California office, the criminal complaint describes three occasions when Shittu allegedly obtained fraudulently obtained benefits.

Officials say he sent a request for unemployment benefits to the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD), which it received on May 5, 2020. The request was submitted in the name of a resident of Mercer Island, Washington, identified in the complaint only by the initials “S.O.” The request included the supposed applicant’s correct date of birth and social security number.

The Washington ESD deposited more than $9,000 in an account linked to a reloadable debit card. A subsequent investigation revealed the account was used by someone in California, who withdrew cash from it at several Bay Area ATMs, including Hayward, Castro Valley, and San Jose.

The complaint says S.O. told investigators he wasn’t in California at any time during 2020. A Walmart customer fitting Shittu’s description was captured on camera using an ATM to withdraw cash from that account.

Shittu is also accused of at least two other instances of obtaining benefits meant for other people in Washington – one from Seattle and the other from Olympia. Both times, Bay Area ATMs were used to withdraw money from those accounts and spent in Bay Area stores. In each case, someone fitting Shittu’s description was photographed engaging in transactions relating to the accounts.

Shittu allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in unemployment benefits from various state agencies, including the Washington ESD.

Shittu is charged with three counts of access device fraud and faces a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison for each count. A court may also order restitution, fines, a period of supervised release, and other penalties.