Eight young men from New York City allegedly defrauded the federal government out of $2 million in coronavirus relief funds and then flaunted the cash in pictures online, prosecutors said.
The eight men from Brooklyn were charged Tuesday for their alleged role in the scheme in the District Court of Eastern New York, the New York Post reported.
Court documents show six out of the eight men, ranging in age between 18 and 25 years old, were formally charged in court, while the remaining two suspects are still at large.
Four of the alleged fraudsters flaunted their cash on social media, posting pictures of themselves with large piles of money, according to the court documents.
Prosecutors say the men stole personal information from people who have enrolled in the assistance program.
This information included credit card numbers and social security numbers, all used to allegedly obtain coronavirus unemployment benefit assistance fraudulently.
Their false claims enabled the suspects to obtain $2 million in benefits from June 2020 to April 2021.
Prosecutors also said the suspects used the same addresses and cellphone numbers when filing multiple fraudulent claims.
All eight suspects face charges of conspiracy to commit access-device fraud.
“There is never an excuse to knowingly commit fraud and steal from a system that was designed to help New Yorkers in a time of need,” state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon told the Post.
The Secret Service announced earlier in May that the agency had recovered more than $2 billion in stolen pandemic relief benefits.