Duluth man pleads guilty to COVID-19 fraud, including identity theft of dozens

A Duluth man pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges in connection to a COVID-19 relief fraud scheme.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, 34-year-old Jared Fiege designed a scheme to get more than $250,000 in unemployment insurance and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program as a part of COVID-19 relief. He submitted fraudulent applications for benefits and assistance using stolen birth dates, names and Social Security numbers from at least 20 other people. Fiege also used fictional businesses that he connected to real peoples’ identities without their consent.

Fiege pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

He used multiple cell phones and email addresses to impersonate the identities he’d stolen, as well as fraudulent passports, the U.S. Attorney’s Office siad. Fiege also opened bank accounts and cards that he sent to other peoples’ addresses and stole them from their mailboxes to obtain cash.

The U. S. Postal Inspection Service, Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Duluth Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension collaborated on the investigation into Fiege.

The attorney general established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force in May of 2021 to use the Department of Justice’s resources and partner with other governmental agencies in order to prevent and prosecute pandemic-related fraud.

Anyone with information regarding pandemic-related fraud is encouraged to report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.