George Santos charged with stealing thousands from donors’ credit cards

New York Republican allegedly used donor info to make more than $44,000 in unauthorised credit card transactions, including a personal transfer to his bank account

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 11 October 2023 00:00 BST
Rep. Santos' campaign treasurer pleads guilty

Federal officials charged congressman George Santos with stealing his donors’ identities and using them to make over $44,000 in credit card purchases.

In a superseding indictment unsealed on Tuesday, the scandal-plagued New York Republican was accused of using donor cards to make multiple unlawful credit transactions without their knowledge, including moving the “vast majority” of a $12,000 transfer to his personal bank account, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

“Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen,” he added.

The Independent has contacted Mr Santos for comment.

Federal prosecutors outlined a brazen alleged fraud scheme to deceive the federal government, the Republican Party, and donors to the 2022 Santos campaign.

Mr Santos and campaign treasurer Nancy Marks allegedly falsely inflated the campaign’s recorded fundraising to qualify for a GOP funding programme for promising candidates by using family members’ names and identities without their knowledge.

Between December 2021 and August 2022, Mr Santos also allegedly stole the identities and financial information of campaign donors to make repeated charges he transferred to his campaign, other candidates, and to his personal bank account, according to prosecutors.

All told, Mr Santos, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit offences against the US, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud.

These charges are on top of the original set of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and false statements to Congress offences he was charged with this May. He pleaded not guilty to the original set of charges.

Last week, Marks pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge related to the alleged scheme.

“The donors, who are real people, didn’t give me permission to use their names,” she said in the courthouse.

The criminal charges against Mr Santos follow a steady drip of stories throughout his campaign and time in Congress indicating he lied about key parts of his personal story and résumé.

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