Suwanee woman gets prison for Social Security, FEMA scam

A Nigerian woman living in Georgia will serve time in prison for defrauding two government agencies of nearly $1 million.

Ivie Shevon Sajere, from Suwanee, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for stealing personal information and falsely filing thousands of applications for Social Security Administration retirement benefits and Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster benefits, a Tuesday announcement said. Sajere was also ordered to repay over $900,000.

“This was a massive fraud that impacted two government agencies and harmed thousands of victims across the country whose identities were stolen,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said.

From June 2017 until September 2018, Sajere and her husband, Neville Sajere, who both engaged in marriage fraud in a failed attempt to become U.S. citizens, participated in the money laundering scheme, Erskine said. Unknown individuals also took part in the scheme.

The individuals who had personal information stolen were of retirement age and highly acclaimed in their fields, the announcement said. They could have been targeted because they had not filed for retirement benefits and did not need disaster benefit relief. This made the application approval process easier. The victims included a movie director, an award-winning journalist, the daughter of a movie director, and a highly esteemed academic, the announcement said.

Stolen funds were put onto a Green Dot debit card. Sajere then generated payments through Square, Stripe, and PayPal to Nevada Bridge TV, a Nigerian streaming service/television production company owned by her husband; BAGMA, an African gospel award show business also owned by her husband; and Shevonz, a clothing store she owned, the announcement said.

“This scheme highlights the importance of national collaboration when it comes to combatting identity theft,” Tommy Coke said, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Sajere pleaded guilty in November 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. After she completes her sentence, Sajere could be deported, as she is not a U.S. citizen.