A Duluth man has pleaded guilty to an identity theft scheme that netted him more than $250,000 from two COVID-19 relief funds.
Jared J. Fiege, 34, entered his pleas Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in connection with stealing benefits from unemployment insurance and economic disaster loan programs over a four-month stretch last year.
Fiege remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service ahead of sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.
According to his guilty pleas:
From April to August of 2020, Fiege submitted fraudulent applications for the assistance by using stolen names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of at least 20 people. In applying for economic disaster loan assistance and advances, Fiege invented fictional business entities, which he linked to the identities of real people.
He used multiple cellphones, e-mail addresses and fraudulent passports to impersonate others. He opened bank accounts and requested bank cards to be issued by mail to other people's addresses, which he would then steal from their mailboxes.
According to court documents, authorities believe Fiege stole at least $35,000 in unemployment claims. It is also believed that he received $35,000 from the Small Business Administration that was meant to help struggling businesses during the pandemic.
In August, an operations officer at Share Advantage Credit Union in Duluth noticed an ATM was dispensing unusually large amounts of cash, according to the documents.
At Fiege's residence, authorities found stolen guns and $170,000 in cash. Inside his truck, they found $19,000 in cash, cellphones and binders full of account records for various people.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482