Duluth man sentenced to prison for COVID relief fraud, identity theft of 25 people

A Duluth man was sentenced to federal prison Wednesday after he stole the identity of at least 25 people while fraudulently obtaining over $250,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. 

Jared Fiege, 35, previously pled guilty in July to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison Wednesday in addition to three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $284,355.54 in restitution for his role in the crime, the Department of Justice said in a press release. 

In 2020, Fiege was fraudulently obtaining funds through Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)program over a five-month time span. He was using stolen names, birthdates and social security numbers for at least 25 people to submit fraudulent applications for the Covid relief benefits, according to court documents,

While applying for EDIL assistance, Fiege invented fake business entities which linked to real people. He also had several burner cell phones and email addresses he used to impersonate the identities he stole, according to court documents. 

Fiege also obtained fake passports, utility bills, and other documents for identity verification when applying to the two programs. 

In order to obtain the money from the programs, he created bank accounts under other people's identities. He would request bank cards to be issued by mail, where he would intercept the mail before the actual residents had a chance to receive them, according to court documents.

The 34-year-old previously pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity. During the pendency of the federal case, he also pled guilty to two separate stalking cases involving women in Washington County and St. Louis County, according to the press release.