Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. It’s a fancy way to describe a repeat offender. And it’s the only way to describe Steven Knigge, a retired Department of Revenue fraud investigator who committed while on parole for a prior fraud.
Knigge built a career around fraud. He began a career in 1983 for the State of South Dakota as an auditor for the Department of Revenue and retired in 2015 as a fraud investigator. Not three years later, in 2018, Knigge pleaded guilty to money laundering and bank fraud, after using fake email accounts to get banks to send him money. The scheme involved tricking banks into wiring large sums of money to him by impersonating customers’ emails. Apparently, a twenty-year career finding fraud does not make one a better fraudster. He was sentenced to twenty four months in prison.
Knigge’s parole happened to fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the United States Congress issued the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. Structured in ways to get emergency assistance quickly to individuals, families and business, the CARES Act was also structured in way for fraudsters to plunder. What’s a guy like Knigge to do? Between April and October 2021, Knigge applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans using a non-existent remodeling business supported with false bank statements and fake W-2 forms. Again, a twenty-year career finding fraud does not make one a better fraudster. On February 7, 2024, Knigge pleaded guilty to bank and government benefit fraud totaling over $150,000. Hopefully, this recidivist will refrain from any more fraud while waiting for his next sentencing.
Great job by the Coronavirus Task Force.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Retired fraud investigator pleads guilty to fraud” published by Keloland News on February 8, 2024
A retired fraud investigator with the South Dakota Department of Revenue admits to bank fraud and money laundering. And, it isn’t the first time he’s been in trouble with the law.
77-year-old Steven Knigge pleaded guilty to several charges. In this latest case, the former state employee admits to depositing five fake checks totaling 142-thousand dollars. He also submitted a fraudulent Paycheck Protection program loan for nearly 21-thousand dollars. According to court documents, the crimes began around the same time his supervision ended in a prior case.