An Uber driver from Brampton, Ont., has been convicted of fraud for trying to bilk the Town of Bridgewater, N.S., of nearly half a million dollars.
Ayoola Ajibade was accused of posing as an executive with the large Nova Scotia company Dexter Construction, and he persuaded the town to make a direct, electronic payment of $490,930.43 to a Scotiabank branch in Brampton.
But according to a decision released Monday by Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Paul Scovil, Ajibade's plan started to unravel when he tried to get the bank to make a $180,000 wire transfer to China.
The bank placed a hold on the transfer while it investigated. According to evidence at Ajibade's trial, Scotiabank contacted the Town of Bridgewater and Dexter Construction. They determined that the bank account in Brampton was owned by Ajibade and had no connection to the construction company.
Ajibade, who testified in his own defence, told the court a story of being approached by a man named Andrew in Nigeria. Ajibade said he did not know Andrew or his last name. According to Ajibade's testimony, Andrew asked him to help an acquaintance, Joshua — again, Ajibade didn't know his last name or contact information — buy a business. Ajibade agreed.
Ajibade testified that Andrew asked him to transfer the $180,000 to China to help buy equipment. At one point, Ajibade said he stopped hearing from Andrew.
"Mr. Ajibade denied knowing that the matter was not on the up and up," Scovil said in his decision. "He broke down and cried for a short while on the witness stand, saying he would never get involved in such a scheme knowingly."
Scovil said he did not believe Ajibade's story.
"This court does not find him credible in the least," the judge wrote.
"Factor into this bizarre tale the fact that the only connection of Andrew to Mr. Ajibade is a Joshua, again name unknown," the judge added.
Crown prosecutor Keavin-Mathieu Gallant Finnerty described Ajibade's actions as a large-scale fraud. "This fraudulent act put the entire community at risk of significant financial deprivation," he said Monday in an email. "The Crown is satisfied with the outcome of this matter."
Ajibade is to be sentenced at a later date. Bridgewater was able to recover the money it had mistakenly transferred to Ajibade's bank account.
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