WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJLA/CNN) – It is being called the largest COVID-19-related fraud scheme uncovered to date.
Tuesday, the Justice Department announced charges against 47 people who they say stole from a pandemic program meant to provide meals to needy children.
The DOJ accuses the defendants of defrauding $250 million from the federal Child Nutrition Program.
According to officials, those charged in the scheme set up a network of shell companies connected to the Minnesota-based nonprofit “Feeding our Future.”
Prosecutors say they claimed to feed thousands of children every day, but they instead used more than a quarter of a billion dollars to buy luxury cars, real estate, jewelry and to fund international trips.
The defendants now face a range of charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, as well as paying and receiving illegal kickbacks.