Republican George Santos faces fresh allegations and fraud case ahead of swearing-in

Photo of US congressman George Santos wearing a navy suit, white shirt and pink tie as he makes air quotation gestures with both of his hands.

As George Santos prepares to be sworn into Congress, calls for his resignation are mounting.

Santos, set to become a House representative on Tuesday (3 January), has admitted to lying about his educational background, religion, and work history during his election campaign.

Now, new allegations have surfaced, including more alleged lies about his family background.

According to a New York Times report published on 1 January, Santos claimed his mother was “the first female executive at a major financial institution”. Friends, however, told the Times she was a cook.

He also claimed that “9/11 claimed my mother’s life” – but according to researchers, she actually died in 2016 due to complications unrelated to the terrorist attacks.

George Santos, suurrounded by campaign members, speaks into various microphones.
George Santos talking during a campaign rally. (Getty)

Santos is also the subject of a reopened criminal fraud case in Brazil.

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He was accused of using a stolen chequebook and a false name at a Rio de Janeiro clothing store in 2008, the New York Times reported.

Santos and his mother reportedly admitted his responsibility to police in 2010, but the case went cold after he left the country.

Prosecutors are now set to revive the case, per the Times, and will file a formal request to the US Justice Department to notify him of charges. If he were found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.

As calls for his resignation grow, an ex-boyfriend has shared his experience of living with Santos’ lies.

Former partner Pedro Vilarva told the New York Times that he often had to foot many of Santos’ bills when they were living together.

“He used to say he would get money from Citigroup,” Vilarva said.

“One day it’s one thing, one day it’s another thing. He never ever actually went to work.”

Things became progressively worse between the two, Vilarva said, after Santos surprised him with tickets to Hawaii that he later found out didn’t exist.

Additionally, after finding that his phone was missing – believing that Santos had pawned it – Vilarva looked up Santos online and found that he was reportedly wanted by Brazillian police.

“I woke up in the morning and I packed my stuff all in trash bags, and I called my father and I left,” he said.

George Santos ‘should step down immediately’

The multitude of accusations against George Santos has led groups such as the Equality Caucus to call for his immediate removal from office.

After Santos claimed he lost four employees at the Pulse nightclub shooting, a spokesperson for the caucus said in a statement: “Mr. Santos should step down immediately. The LGBTQ+ community and the people of New York’s Third Congressional District deserve better.”

Various returning co-chairs of the caucus came together to sign the open letter, which said that Santos “lacked” both “integrity and honestly.”

Vilarva also voiced his scepticism of Santos’ ability as a Congress member, saying: “I would be scared to have someone like that in charge – having so much power in his hands.”

In interviews, George Santos played down the fabrications, saying he used a “poor choice of words” when describing his employment history. 

“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he said. “I own up to that … We do stupid things in life.”

He acknowledged he didn’t graduate from “any institution of higher learning” and never worked directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, despite claims to the contrary.

In response to reports casting doubt on his claims of Jewish heritage, Santos told the New York Post: “I never claimed to be Jewish… I said I was ‘Jew-ish’.” 

He referred to himself as a “proud American Jew” in a campaign document. He also claimed his grandparents fled “Jewish persecution” in Ukraine before settling in Belgium and “again fled persecution during WWII”. 

An investigation into Santos’ various lies was opened on 28 December by district attorney Anne Donnelly, who said she wished to examine whether he had broken any campaign finance rules during his candidacy.

“The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with congressman-elect Santos are nothing short of stunning,” Donnelly said in a statement.

“The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress.

“No one is above the law and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”

Santos has denied commiting any crimes, telling the New York Times: “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”