The Federal Bureau of Investigation has widened its probe into allegedly fraudulent Holocaust-era claims that could have bilked the German government out of millions of dollars, The Jewish Week has learned.The fraud was discovered in December by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in New York, which processes Holocaust-era claims for survivors in behalf of the German government. It immediately contacted federal authorities, including the FBI. The fraud initially involved claims submitted to the Hardship Fund but has now been broadened to include the Article 2 Fund, a pension program that may have been defrauded out of about $7 million over the last decade. Both investigations are continuing and the Article 2 Fund pensions of more than 200 people were suspended last Thursday. The individuals were notified by certified mail that the authorities were informed that they were suspected of fraud and that they must return all of the money they had received or file an appeal within 90 days. The Hardship Fund was established in 1980 to compensate Jews who were forced to flee east during the Holocaust and remained in Soviet-bloc countries after the war, denying them German reparations. Three of 10 employees processing claims for the fund were fired in February, and the Claims Conference said at the time that it was not known whether they were complicit in the fraud.The Claims Conference said the fraud is believed to have involved at least 100 claimants, each of whom received a one-time payment of about $3,500. It said all of the claims involved men and women who claimed to have lived in the former Soviet Union during World War II and who now live in Brooklyn. Roman Kent, treasurer of the Claims Conference, said Monday that no arrests have yet been made but that as the FBI probe continued, it “became more and more clear that it [the amount of money involved] might be more than we originally estimated.”“I don’t have a hard figure,” Kent said of the amount defrauded. “We are fully cooperating with the FBI and others.”