Hundreds Charged with Theft of $830 Million in COVID-19 Aid

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Image Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

According to the U.S. Justice Department, hundreds of individuals have been charged with the theft of over $830 million in COVID-19 emergency aid. The nationwide operation, conducted by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, resulted in charges against more than 300 people, with over 60 defendants allegedly connected to organized crime. Among the accused are members of a criminal gang, the Wild 100s, who are accused of using stolen pandemic aid to finance a murder.

Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that the Justice Department’s efforts to identify and prosecute those involved in pandemic relief fund theft are ongoing. The three-month operation, which concluded in July, highlighted the widespread nature of the fraud. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who led a meeting of law enforcement officials, stated that they would continue their efforts for as long as necessary.

An Associated Press analysis published in June estimated that fraudsters potentially stole over $280 billion in COVID-19 relief funding, with an additional $123 billion wasted or misspent. The majority of the funds were taken from three major pandemic relief initiatives aimed at supporting small businesses and unemployed workers affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The Justice Department has reported that nearly 3,200 defendants have been charged with COVID-19 aid fraud, and approximately $1.4 billion in stolen pandemic aid has been seized. In one case, alleged members of the Wild 100s gang from Milwaukee are accused of stealing millions of dollars in pandemic unemployment assistance. They reportedly used a portion of the funds to purchase firearms, drugs, and to finance a murder. The victim in the Wisconsin case is identified only by the initials N.B., and the exact amount of money used for the crime is undisclosed.

To combat COVID-19 fraud, the Justice Department announced the creation of additional strike forces in Colorado and New Jersey, joining existing ones in California, Florida, and Maryland. Mike Galdo, the department’s acting director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, expressed that their work is far from over due to the extensive scope of the fraud.

Ryan Scott
Author: Ryan Scott

Just a guy

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