Duluth man faces federal charges in identity theft, COVID-19 relief scheme

Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.
·3 min read

Mar. 12—A Duluth man accused of perpetrating an "extensive" identify theft and COVID-19 relief scheme has been federally indicted on 16 charges.

Jared John Fiege, 34, already was facing a slew of state charges for allegedly stealing the identifies of some two dozen people, fraudulently obtaining upward of $200,000 from the federal government and "terrorizing" two ex-girlfriends.

Authorities said the case first came to the attention of Duluth police in August, when an "unusually large amount of cash" was being withdrawn nightly from Share Advantage Credit Union. Investigator Ryan Temple learned a man was using accounts funded by loans from the Small Business Administration under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The accounts allegedly had been set up in others' names, with debit cards sent to an address in the Saginaw area. Fiege was identified as a suspect and police obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on his car.

According to court documents, it was discovered that Fiege "would travel each day in a circuit around the town of Saginaw" to intercept mail from various addresses where he had arranged for the fraudulent credit cards to be sent.

He allegedly used stolen names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, as well as fictional business identities linked to real addresses, in submitting applications for small business relief and unemployment insurance.

When Fiege was arrested Aug. 31, police said they found approximately $170,000 in cash at his residence, along with two firearms that had been stolen from car prowls, and several passports and credit cards. In his truck, investigators said they located another $19,000 in cash and 14 cellphones, each with a different victim's name taped to the back.

Also found were "binders of information that contained account records from various individuals," according to previously filed court documents.

Federal authorities said it has now been determined that Fiege submitted unemployment and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program applications using the identifies of "at least 25 individuals."

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota announced the federal indictment Thursday. It charges Fiege with five counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of being a felon in possession of firearm.

He was already charged in State District Court in Duluth with six felony counts, including identity theft, mail theft, theft by swindle, receiving stolen property and offering a forged check.

Fiege is separately charged in St. Louis and Washington counties with a number of crimes related to the alleged stalking of his ex-girlfriends. He is accused of causing well over $30,000 in damage to their vehicles, sending threatening messages and attempting to frame one for a harassment restraining order violation, among many other allegations.

The federal case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Small Business Administration Inspector General's Office, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Duluth Police Department.

An initial appearance has yet to be scheduled on the federal charges. He's next set to appear in state court April 30.