(PHOTO) Felony Fraud. Nigerian Woman Held. Husband Flees USA. Police in Arlington have just arrested a Nigerian woman accused of defrauding the government of a huge amount of money in welfare checks over six years. The Arlington woman has been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $100,000 in public assistance. Police say the fraud happened between 2010 and 2016.
The 41-year-old Nigerian mother of four, Helen Agbapuruonwu, was charged with felony welfare fraud and document forgery. Her husband is listed on LinkedIn and elsewhere as an associate at the D.C. office of a large international law firm which almost certainly rules her out of eligibility for welfare besides her own income.
While Helen was collecting benefits for six years, her husband, Fidelis Agbapuruonwu, was earning $1.5 million per year as a lawyer, according to court documents.
In 2001, Fidelis received the prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship which helped pay his way through law school.
Fidelis’ LinkedIn page claims he works for the D.C. firm of Mayer Brown, but today the firm said he no longer works there. Court officials believe Fidelis, a Nigerian immigrant, has “fled the country and is somewhere in Africa.”
The director of the pre-school the Agbapuruonwu’s children once attended said she is shocked by the allegations against family.
“I have to believe it’s not true,” she said. Helen Agbapuruonwu’s defense lawyer declined to comment.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
FELONY WELFARE FRAUD, 2016-10040029, 2100 block of Washington Boulevard. Between April 1, 2010 and August 1, 2016 the subject allegedly fraudulently obtained public assistance in excess of $100,000 under false pretenses. Helen Agbapuruonwu, 38, of Arlington VA was arrested and charged with felony welfare fraud and document forgery.
Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said they hope this case is a deterrent to anyone who thinks about trying to cheat the system.
“We hope it sends a message that if you are taking public assistance it’s truly intended for those in need, and we’re committed to ensuring those who need the most help receive it.”