Congressman George Santos Charged in Campaign Finance Fraud Scheme

Allegations suggest that George Anthony Devolder Santos, a U.S. Congressman from the Third District of New York, engaged in a series of unlawful actions.

These actions include purportedly submitting fraudulent fundraising reports to the FEC in an attempt to secure financial support for his campaign. Additionally, he is accused of repeatedly making unauthorized charges to the credit cards of campaign contributors.

A federal grand jury in Central Islip, New York, has issued an updated indictment against George Santos, charging him with various offenses against the United States. The charges in the new indictment include conspiracy to commit federal offenses, wire fraud (two counts), making false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) (two counts), falsification of records submitted to the FEC (two counts), aggravated identity theft (two counts), and access device fraud (one count).

Notably, the original indictment also included seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Department of Justice reports:

According to the allegations in today’s superseding indictment, during the 2022 election cycle, Santos was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s Third Congressional District.

Nancy Marks was the treasurer for his principal congressional campaign committee. During that election cycle, Santos and Marks allegedly devised and executed a fraudulent scheme to obtain money for the campaign by submitting materially false reports to the FEC on behalf of the campaign, in which Santos and Marks inflated the campaign’s fundraising numbers for the purpose of misleading the FEC, a national party committee, and the public.

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Specifically, the purpose of the scheme was to ensure that Santos and his campaign qualified for a program that the national party committee administered, pursuant to which the national party committee would provide financial and logistical support to Santos and his campaign committee.

To qualify for the program, Santos had to demonstrate, among other things, that his congressional campaign had raised at least $250,000 from third-party contributors in a single quarter.

To create the public appearance that his campaign had met that financial benchmark and was otherwise financially viable, Santos and Marks allegedly agreed to falsely report to the FEC that at least 10 family members of Santos and Marks had made significant financial contributions to the campaign, when Santos and Marks both knew that these individuals had neither made the reported contributions nor given authorization for their personal information to be included in such false public reports.

In addition, understanding that the national party committee relied on FEC fundraising data to evaluate candidates’ qualification for the program, Santos and Marks allegedly agreed to falsely report to the FEC that Santos had loaned the campaign significant sums of money, including in one instance a $500,000 loan, when, in fact, Santos had not made the reported loans and, at the time the loans were reported, did not have the funds necessary to make such loans.

The Credit Card Fraud Scheme

As alleged in the superseding indictment, between approximately December 2021 and August 2022, Santos devised and executed a fraudulent scheme to steal the personal identity and financial information of contributors to his campaign. He then allegedly charged contributors’ credit cards repeatedly, without their authorization. Because of these unauthorized transactions, funds were transferred to Santos’ campaign, to the campaigns of other candidates for elected office, and to his own bank account.

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 or other contributors, rather than the true cardholders. Santos did not have authorization to use the cardholders’ names in this way.

For example, in December 2021, one contributor (the contributor) texted Santos and others to make a contribution to his campaign, providing billing information for two credit cards. In the days after he received the billing information, Santos allegedly used the credit card information to make numerous contributions to his campaign and affiliated political committees in amounts exceeding applicable contribution limits, without the contributor’s knowledge or authorization.

To mask the true source of these contributions and thereby circumvent the applicable campaign contribution limits, Santos falsely identified the contributor for one of the charges as one of his relatives. In the following months, Santos allegedly repeatedly charged the contributor’s credit card without the contributor’s knowledge or authorization, attempting to make at least $44,800 in charges and repeatedly concealing the true source of funds by falsely listing the source of funds as Santos himself, his relatives, and other contributors. On one occasion, Santos charged $12,000 to the contributor’s credit card, ultimately transferring the vast majority of that money into Santos’s own personal bank account.

Source: Department of Justice

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