Brooklyn gang busted for allegedly stealing more than $4 million in COVID relief funds

Group reportedly rapped about theft on social media.

Updated: February 19, 2022 - 10:21am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The members of a notorious New York City street gang allegedly ripped off more than $4 million in COVID relief funds, with the feds closing in on the group after they reportedly rapped about the theft in a music video.

Nearly a dozen members of the “Woo gang” in Brooklyn this week were charged with “conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits funded, in whole or in part, by COVID-19 pandemic assistance programs,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said that “between March 2020 and October 2021, the defendants used the personally identifiable information of more than 800 victims to submit nearly 1,000 claims to the New York State Department of Labor for unemployment insurance benefits” tied to COVID relief efforts. 

“The defendants ultimately obtained approximately $4.3 million in unemployment insurance after having filed for approximately $20 million in benefits,” the office said.

The attorney’s office claimed that a line in one of the gang’s rap songs—“Unemployment got us workin’ a lot”—was a reference to the scam.

“This Office and its law enforcement partners will vigorously prosecute gang members and anyone else who exploits the pandemic and steals from taxpayer-funded programs,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in the announcement.