SAN DIEGO – A Romanian citizen suspected of masterminding a multi-million dollar coronavirus relief fraud was arrested Wednesday at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station, according to prosecutors.

Constantin Sandu, 33, was charged in a federal complaint Thursday with stealing more than $5 million in California unemployment insurance benefits intended to help workers impacted by the pandemic, Kelly Thornton with the Office of the United States Attorney Southern District of California said in a news release.

The complaint states that Sandu, along with 214 unnamed Romanian co-conspirators across California and in Romania, fabricated documents, created fictitious accounts and businesses and filed bogus claims with California’s Economic Development Department.

“The complaint said that beginning in fall of 2020 and continuing until late summer of 2022, Sandu and hundreds of unnamed co-conspirators learned and developed a process to receive the most benefits possible by using fraudulent identifications, falsified utility bills, falsified earnings statements, falsified W2s, fraudulent Health Insurance cards and non-existent companies,” Thornton said.

Sandu also learned to “backdate” or modify the EDD applications with an earlier unemployment start date to bring in more money, per officials.