Brooklyn street gang charged with stealing $ 4.3 million in Covid-19 relief money after being caught flashing cash on social media
Brooklyn street gang charged with stealing $ 4.3 million in Covid-19 relief money after being caught flashing cash on social media

Brooklyn street gang charged with stealing $ 4.3 million in Covid-19 relief money after being caught flashing cash on social media

A Brooklyn street gang has been charged with lowering more than $ 4.3 million in pandemic assistance, using stolen identities to file 1,000 fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims, prosecutors said.

Eleven members of the Woo gang were accused of filing more than $ 20 million in false service applications, about a fifth of which were approved, and of having sent the payments to addresses they checked.

Prosecutors said the gang was eventually caught, in part because they posted numerous photos and videos of themselves online, flashing gang signs and piles of cash, often while standing in front of luxury cars, including Lamborghini and Mercedes Benz.

“Photographs and videos of the defendants posted on publicly available social media pages show them (a) expressing their loyalty to the Woo street gang through hand signs and other means, and (b) showcasing their ill-gotten gains by showing large stacks of US currency and standing near luxury cars, “investigators wrote in the criminal complaint.

In May 2021, several of the accused gang members appeared in a music video on YouTube titled “Trappin”, which contained lyrics such as: “Unemployment made us work a lot,” which investigators claimed in court papers was a reference to fraud scheme.

Ten of the 11 men – all of whom are 23 years old or younger – were remanded in custody Thursday and could not be reached for comment. It was not clear if they had yet hired lawyers. One of the men remained at large, investigators said.

Prosecutors say the men, between March 2020 and October 2021, seized the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of 800 people and used them to file nearly 1,000 claims with the New York State Department of Labor for unemployment benefits in connection with pandemic assistance. programs.

While many of the allegations were rejected, hundreds were approved and prosecutors say the men had the debit cards containing the benefit payments sent to postal addresses to which they had access.

All 11 men have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud with accessory equipment and aggravated identity theft.

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