Swooping in during the final stretch of 2022 is a brazen new entry for scammer of the year: Rep.-elect George Santos, a 34-year-old Republican from Long Island who seems to have completely made up key parts of his work, education, and personal background.
Santos would be the first Brazilian American and the first openly gay nonincumbent Republican elected to Congress. While campaigning for office, he referenced his Jewish roots and touted his experience on Wall Street and his philanthropic work. But a New York Times article on Monday revealed glaring holes in his résumé, casting serious doubt on his claims. In the days since, more damning exposés about his professed background have been published.
There are growing calls for the incoming member of Congress to resign and be investigated. Santos, who had flipped a Democrat-held seat in the midterm election to help the GOP cinch a narrow lead in the House, remained silent for several days before saying on Thursday that he will answer questions the week after.
"To the people of #NY03 I have my story to tell and it will be told next week," he tweeted. "I want to assure everyone that I will address your questions and that I remain committed to deliver the results I campaigned on; Public safety, Inflation, Education & more. Happy Holidays to all!"
His lawyer Joe Murray accused the Times of "attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations." Murray did not respond to BuzzFeed News' questions about the reports.
Here are all the things Santos seems to have lied about and/or failed to disclose during his campaign.
Being Jewish and that his grandparents fled the Holocaust
Santos has claimed that his mother is Jewish and that his maternal grandparents "fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine" during World War II. In June 2020, responding to a tweet calling him a Nazi, Santos wrote, "Wow you pulled the Nazi card on the grandson of Holocaust refugees!"
Yet reporting from Forward revealed that his maternal grandparents were born in Brazil, and there were no Brazilian immigration records for them in the 1930s or 1940s. Their names also did not show up on databases with records of European Jewish refugees.
His late mother's Facebook activity also leaned toward Catholic pages and images of Christianity, the Forward reported.
A distant relative of Santos on his father's side who researched the family tree told Forward that there were no Ukrainian or Jewish roots on that side of the family either.
Several professional genealogists who CNN asked to research Santos's background also found no evidence of his claims about his grandparents.
Graduating from Baruch College
Santos has said that he graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor's degree in economics and finance.
But the university told the New York Times that it had no record of anyone with Santos's name, or variations of his name, graduating in 2010 as he claimed.
His supposed college years would have also coincided with time that he was actually in Brazil, where he was charged after confessing to stealing a checkbook and using it to make purchases, records obtained by the Times show. Brazilian officials told the Times that the case is unresolved.
Studying at NYU
The National Republican Congressional Committee said in Santos's biography that "he attended Baruch College and NYU where he got degrees in finance and economics."
NYU told the Times that there were no attendance records under Santos's name.
Working at two big-time Wall Street firms
Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, two companies he claimed to have been employed at on his campaign website, told the New York Times they had no record of him ever working there.
Citigroup told the Times it could not confirm Santos's employment there and its asset management division was sold in 2005. Santos claimed he was an "associate asset manager" at Citigroup.
Goldman Sachs also said it could not find any record of Santos being employed there.
Employing four of the Pulse nightclub shooting victims
Santos told WNYC recently that he "lost four employees" in the deadly 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Florida, without identifying them or the company he apparently employed them at.
"I condemn what happened in Colorado, just much like at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, which I happen to, at the time, have people that work for me in the club," he said following the deadly shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs in November. "My company, at the time, we lost four employees that work that were at Pulse nightclub."
The Times reported that of the 49 Pulse victims, none worked at any of the companies Santos claimed in his employment background.
Running an animal charity
Santos's charitable organization, Friends of Pets United, was not recorded as having tax-exempt status with the IRS, and attorneys general in New York and New Jersey found no records of it being registered as a charity, the Times reported.
A fundraiser that Friends of Pets United held with a New Jersey animal rescue in 2017 charged a $50 entry fee, but the fundraiser's beneficiary, who the Times granted anonymity to, said she did not receive any of the money raised.
Where his money came from
Santos has claimed that Devolder Organization, his family's company, managed $80 million in assets. He reported a $750,000 salary and more than $1 million in dividends from the firm, but he did not mention any clients on his congressional financial disclosure forms, the Times reported.
Being a landlord
Between 2015 and 2017, Santos was evicted from two different apartments for owing thousands in unpaid rent, the Times reported.
Then in 2021, he claimed he was a landlord and that he and his family had not been paid rent on 13 properties that they owned for nearly one year.
"Will we landlords ever be able to take back possession of our property?" he tweeted. "We worked hard to acquire these assets ... Now it almost feels like we are being punished."
But he did not include any properties on his financial disclosure forms for his 2020 and 2022 campaigns, the Times reported. Property records databases in NYC and Nassau County also showed no records associated with him, his family, or Devolder Organization.
Divorcing his ex-wife
Santos is openly gay and his campaign website says he lives with his husband, Matt, on Long Island. He has supported Florida's discriminatory "Don't Say Gay" bill — he falsely said the legislation would "protect values and the innocence of children" — and claimed he has "never experienced discrimination" in the GOP.
The Daily Beast reported on Thursday that Santos finalized a divorce from a woman in September 2019, months before he launched his 2020 campaign. The divorce was never publicly disclosed.