According to investigators, those arrested for squandering up to $100 billion in pandemic aid knew no limitations on millions.
The US government has spent about $3.5 trillion in disaster assistance since the COVID-19 epidemic broke out nearly two years ago. The Secret Service thinks that about $100 billion of it was gained falsely by rogue actors throughout the nation.
Hundreds of fraud cases have been brought by prosecutors in the last year as the government attempts to reclaim some of the ill-gotten profits. The thieves are suspected of spending the money on anything from high-end watches to high-end autos and high-end real estate.
Last May, the Department of Justice stated that the Attorney General formed the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to “improve efforts to fight and prevent pandemic-related fraud” by pooling resources out of the federal government’s Department of Justice and other agencies
Since the epidemic started, these are five of the most egregious deceptions:
Purchasing a luxury automobile fleet with $17 million in fictitious PPP
Dinesh Sah, 55, of Coppell, Texas, pled guilty in March to defrauding the Payroll Protection Program of $17 million in loans. Prosecutors claim Sah used the money to purchase a “fleet of expensive automobiles,” including a $250,000 Corvette Stingray, a Porsche Macan, and a Bentley convertible.
Sah also used the money to buy three residences in Texas and pay off other mortgages in California. The government said it had recovered $7.2 million at the time of his guilty plea. Sah is appealing his sentence of 11 years and three months in jail.
After asking for $550,000 in help, one guy staged his own death
David Staveley of Andover, Massachusetts, was the first individual arrested for attempting to obtain COVID-19 relief money that he was not entitled to. After submitting for $550,000 in disaster help under his brother’s name, he was caught in May 2020.
He faked his own death within weeks, leaving a suicide note in his vehicle parked near the seashore, and then went on the run for weeks. He was apprehended by the US Marshals Service in Georgia and sentenced to five years in jail.
In their sentencing brief, prosecutors noted, “Many of his family members and colleagues were left with the assumption that Staveley had truly killed himself, albeit the ones who knew him well-alerted law enforcement that they considered this to be yet another plan perpetrated by the defendant.”
Prosecutors claim he used PPP to purchase a Lamborghini
Valesky Barony, 27, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was arrested in December for allegedly pocketing $2.1 million in PPP loans that he did not earn. Prosecutors say he spent the money on a $225,000 Lamborghini Sportscar EVO and a Rolex watch. Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel. A request for a response from his lawyer was not returned.
“According to the indictment, Barry is charged with five counts of wire fraud, three charges of money laundering, and one case of aggravated identity theft. Barry faces a maximum sentence of 132 years in prison if convicted, according to the Department of Justice. “Any punishment will be determined by a federal district court judge after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory criteria.”
This ex-con claimed $150,000 after serving time for murder
Kyle McLemore was barely days out of prison after serving 21 years for murder when he reportedly applied for $150,000 in COVID-19 unemployment payments and small business loans. Unfortunately, he hadn’t worked in a long time owing to his imprisonment, and he had no business to speak of. He might be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.
According to authorities, McLemore said on his unemployment assistance application that he lost his job in March 2020, just as the coronavirus epidemic began to spread throughout the United States.
McLemore, however, remained behind bars in March 2020. Before the scam was revealed, he got $14,555 in unemployment benefits. He has entered a not-guilty plea.
An Olympic speed skater was accused of attempting a $10 million heist
Allison Baver’s next step after winning Olympic gold for speed skating was reportedly stealing $10 million in PPP loans for her entertainment firm, which she claimed employed 400 people but authorities claim employed none.
She is accused of using some of the monies to help produce an Elijah Wood film about serial killer Ted Bundy. She has not responded to requests for comment.
According to federal authorities in Utah, Baver, 41, applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans in April 2020, saying her entertainment firm had 430 workers and a monthly payroll of nearly $4 million. At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Baver won bronze in the 3,000-meter US women’s relay team short track speed skating event.