(TheLastPatriotNews.com) – Federal authorities have exposed the theft of $250 million in a fraud scheme for abusing public COVID-19 pandemic funds for low-income children, the largest of its kind so far, charging 47 people.
The 47 suspects in question, residents of Minnesota, have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering, bribery, and wire fraud over their large-scale theft from federal programs providing meals to poor children. A number of them were arrested on Tuesday morning.
According to the prosecutors, the defendants set up firms that pretended to serve food to dozens of thousands of children across the state. They then asked the US Department of Agriculture for reimbursement through its food nutrition programs.
The defendants utilized the US taxpayers’ money to buy luxury properties, jewelry, and vehicles, and few low-income children got the meals they were supposed to.
“This $250 million is the floor. Our investigation continues,” Andy Luger, the US attorney for Minnesota, told reporters, as cited by Newsmax.
The companies’ reimbursement claims were submitted to the US government by a nonprofit named Feeding Our Future. A number of its officials, including founder and director Aimee Bock, have been indicted.
In January, law enforcement searched numerous sites as part of the investigations. In interviews after the searchers, Bock claimed she never got any kickbacks and saw any fraud evidence.
The $250 million theft is “an astonishing display of deceit,” according to Michael Paul, the head of the FBI office in Minneapolis. Other federal officials described the fraud scheme as “brazen,” especially because it robbed children of the food they were supposed to receive on behalf of the US government.
According to Luger, the government paid for more than 125 million fake meals. Some defendants even made up children “fed” by the program through an online random name generator.
The Minnesota US attorney showed one form for reimbursement alleging that a site served exactly 2,500 meals each day Monday through Friday, without any children missing even a day from the program.
“These children were simply invented,” Luger declared, adding that the US has already recovered $50 million in money and property from the massive theft and expects to recover more.
Court documents state that the fraudsters exploited changes during the coronavirus pandemic, which waived some of Minnesota’s standard requirements for partaking in the federal food nutrition programs.
Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice said it was going to prioritize the prosecution of pandemic-related fraud.
So far, the law enforcement actions it has taken are related to over $8 billion in pandemic fraud. Those include bringing charges in over 1,000 cases, which have caused losses of more than $1.1 billion.
Federal authorities charged 47 people in Minnesota with conspiracy in what they said was the largest fraud scheme yet to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, stealing $250 million from a federal program that provides meals to low-income children. https://t.co/Eqgbtoei8r
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 20, 2022
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