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Indictments Accuse 44 in Minnesota of Brazen Pandemic Aid Fraud | #phishing | #scams | #hacking | #aihp

The case is one of the most prominent to be brought by the Justice Department as it scrambles to address waves of fraud involving pandemic-era programs that sent billions of dollars of aid into the economy, often with few strings attached and little oversight.

The Labor Department’s inspector general’s office has opened 39,000 investigations. At the Small Business Administration, about 50 agents have been sorting through two million potentially fraudulent loan applications. And while the sheer volume of cases all but ensures that some cases will go unaddressed, the prosecutions in Minnesota signal that the Justice Department is moving aggressively on others.

The indictments said the defendants spent their money on real estate in the United States, Kenya and Turkey, as well as on cars and luxury goods. The Justice Department is seeking to seize many of those purchases, including more than 20 cars, more than 40 properties, guns, cryptocurrency and a Louis Vuitton duffel bag.

The indictments are accusations, and many of those indicted have said they did nothing wrong. After a series of F.B.I. searches in January revealed the existence of the investigation, Ms. Bock told The Times that she had put in place strong antifraud measures and did not believe anyone in her system had broken the rules.

If there was fraud, Ms. Bock said then, “every test we have in place and every protection we have in place didn’t catch it. Is it possible? Absolutely. And if they got one over on us, I will help hold them accountable.”

Also among those indicted was a Feeding Our Future employee, Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh, who was accused of taking kickbacks from people involved in the scheme. Three other defendants — including another of the nonprofit’s employees, Hadith Yusuf Ahmed — were charged via “criminal information” rather than a grand jury indictment.

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