George Santos accused of defrauding campaign donors out of at least $44,000
US Representative for New York George Santos has been charged with defrauding his campaign donors out of at least $44,000, alongside an additional 22 criminal charges.
In total, the US justice department has charged Santos with conspiracy to commit offences against the US, theft of public funds, access device fraud, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements against the FEC, two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of making materially false statements to the US House of Representatives, two counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of money laundering and seven counts of wire fraud.
Santos, who has been surrounded by scandal since he took office in January, has yet to comment on these latest charges.
In an official statement published on Tuesday night (10 October), FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith said: “Santos allegedly led multiple additional fraudulent criminal schemes, lying to the American public in the process. The FBI is committed to upholding the laws of our electoral process. Anyone who attempts to violate the law as part of a political campaign will face punishment in the criminal justice system.”
District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly added: “The defendant – a Congressman – allegedly stole the identities of family members and used the credit card information of political contributors to fraudulently inflate his campaign coffers.”
These new charges add to 13 existing counts against the New York Republican, which included money laundering campaign funds and illegally claiming unemployment benefits while employed.
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This new indictment against the representative accuses him of stealing the “personal identity and financial information of contributors to his campaign” without their knowledge.
Santos allegedly charged contributors’ credit cards repeatedly without their authorisation. These funds were then “transferred to Santos’s campaign, to the campaigns of other candidates for elected office, and to his own bank account.“
The Department of Justice names one occasion in particular, in which Santos “charged $12,000 to the Contributor’s credit card, ultimately transferring the vast majority of that money into his personal bank account.”
In total, the US Rep is accused of charging at least $44,800 to his campaign by defrauding campaign contributors.
“To conceal the true source of these funds and to circumvent campaign contribution limits, Santos falsely represented that some of the campaign contributions were made by other persons, such as his relatives or associates, rather than the true cardholders,” the investigators claim.
Santos is due to return to federal court on 27 October.
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