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A Duluth man has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison after being convicted of wire fraud and identity theft in a COVID relief scheme that netted him $284,355.

The Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced this week that Jared Fiege, 35, stole the identities, including social security numbers, of at least 25 people.

He then used these identities to apply for unemployment insurance benefits and funds from the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs between April and August 2020, as the country underwent lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of his EIDL applications, he also invented fictional business names that he linked to the names of the people whose identities he'd stolen, using multiple burner cellphones and email addresses to impersonate his victims, as well as photoshopping passports and utility bills for identity verifications during the application process.

The elaborate scheme also saw him set up bank accounts in other people's names, using the individuals' real addresses and requesting bank cards for them, intercepting the cards in the mail before the residents saw them.

He would then take the money out of these accounts.

He pleaded guilty to the federal charges on July 14, as well as two separate stalking charges relating to women in Washington and St. Louis counties in Minnesota. He has been sentenced to 102 months in prison, and ordered to pay $284,355.54 in restitution.

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