Federal authorities charged 47 people in Minnesota with conspiracy and other counts on Tuesday in what they said was a massive scheme that took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to steal $250 million from a federal program that provides meals to low-income children.

Prosecutors say the defendants created companies that claimed to be offering food to tens of thousands of children across Minnesota, then sought reimbursement for those meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food nutrition programs. Prosecutors say few meals were actually served, and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry.

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