Charges: Duluth man's scheme netted him thousands in COVID relief funds

He is accused of stealing people's identities to submit fake Unemployment Insurance applications.

A 34-year-old man from Duluth is accused of getting thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding by filing fake applications using people's stolen identities. 

Jared John Fiege from at least April-August 2020 "devised and executed a scheme" to get COVID-19 relief funds through the Unemployment Insurance and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs, the U.S. Attorney's Office alleges in a news release.

A Duluth News Tribune story from November says Fiege was arrested in August and again in November, noting he had nearly $200,000 in cash withdrawn from ATMs that was meant for small businesses and another $35,000 he'd swindled through Unemployment Insurance. 

Fiege is accused of submitting fake applications for the programs by using stolen names, birth dates and social security numbers of at least 25 people, the release says. When applying for the benefits, he also allegedly invented fake business entities, which he linked to the identities of real people without their knowledge or consent.

Federal prosecutors allege Fiege had multiple cell phones and email addresses that he used to impersonate others, and used fake passports to verify identities, the release notes. He also created fake bank accounts and requested bank cards to be sent by mail so he could withdraw "significant amounts of cash" from the accounts. 

In addition, Fiege illegally possessed a Glock 43 9mm handgun and a Sig Sauer handgun. He has prior felony convictions, so he's prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

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Fiege was charged with 16 counts on Thursday, including five counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft and illegal possession of a firearm. 

He'll make his first court appearance in U.S. District Court "at a later date," the release says. 

The Duluth News Tribune story notes Fiege has a long criminal history, including numerous charges for felony theft and stalking.

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