South Dakota duo plead not guilty in rare crop insurance fraud case.

A South Dakota father and son have pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding the government to the tune of $3 million, the Capital Journal reports. They are accused of cheating a Covid-19 small-business relief program and the federal crop insurance program. Investigators began looking into their operation in 2019, after receiving a tip that the duo was collecting crop insurance payments for hail damage on acres that had never been planted. It’s unclear how often people defraud the crop insurance program, but prosecutions are relatively rare; some advocates and politicians have argued for a more robust monitoring process. A 2018 watchdog report found that the Department of Agriculture reported an “improper payment” estimate (read: overpayment) of about 8.5 percent for one of its disaster insurance programs. As for our alleged fraud friends in South Dakota … that was one very expensive hailstorm. —Claire Brown