News & Politics

Young Fraudsters Steal $2 Million From COVID Relief, Get Caught Because They're Stupid

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Who hasn’t gotten in trouble over a Facebook picture?

U.S. Post Office inspectors busted eight men from Brooklyn, ages 18-25, for scamming $2 million from COVID-19 relief funds, (it would have been $5 million worth of funds if they hadn’t gotten caught). They were nabbed with over 100 KeyBank debit cards with other people’s names on them. Two of the suspects are still on the run. The other six were arraigned in Brooklyn on access-device fraud. They allegedly stole personal information from people in the COVID-19 assistance program.

Four of the identity thieves were easy to catch. They posted pictures of themselves online holding mad stacks, yo. In one photo, suspect Angel Cabrera appears, flashing roughly $2,000 as he poses in a tiger-print jogging suit that would make Al Sharpton jealous. Several ATM photos show various defendants withdrawing cash and not wearing masks, making it even easier for the prosecutor to send them to the hoosegow.

Records show that on July 31, 2020, Carlos Vasquez was in such a hurry to grab his fraudulent cash that he stole it from two ATMs simultaneously. The defendants would have stolen more money but sometimes the debit cards hit their daily limit. On September 5, 2020, three of the defendants used a total of 37 debit cards to steal a more than $26,000. All of the ATMs visited were in Queens, though the defendants all live in Brooklyn. Perhaps they thought ATMs in Queens don’t have cameras.

For the trifecta in stupidity, all of the defendants foolishly used their addresses and cell phone numbers for numerous unemployment claims. Genius defendant Carlos Vazquez used his home address on over 50 claims.

The 6 suspects in custody are Carlos Vazquez, 20, Bryan Abraham, 18,  Angel Cabrera, 18, Gianni Stewart, 19, Seth Golding, 18, and Andre Ruddock, 25. Armani Miller, 24, and Johan Santos, 19, are still at large.

U.S. Postal Service Inspector in Charge Philip Bartlett said, “Unfortunately, as the government rolled out various CARES Act programs, fraudsters were at the ready to take full advantage of these programs through a variety of fraud schemes, ripping off the American public of millions in taxpayer dollars and clogging the system for those who honestly are in need.”