Sunday, December 17, 2023

Prosecuting COVID-19 Relief Fraud Is An Ongoing Effort; Man charged with $11.5M in COVID-19 pandemic fraud in PA, and other C-Virus related stories

Prosecuting COVID-19 Relief Fraud Is An Ongoing Effort:
Illegally obtaining COVID-19 relief funds is being called “the greatest fraud of our generation.”
One of the front liners in investigating COVID-19 fraud is U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld for the Northern District of West Virginia .
Randy Yohe spoke with the federal prosecutor about the extent of this crime against taxpayers, and how the public can help fight back.
This story has been lightly edited for clarity.
Yohe: The thumbnail definition of COVID-19 fraud is the illegal use of federal relief funds distributed during the pandemic. What are the particulars of this crime?
Ihlenfeld: COVID fraud comes in a variety of different ways. We look at it from the perspective of Paycheck Protection Program loans that were filed fraudulently. We look at it from the perspective of people who were collecting supplemental unemployment insurance illegally and through other types of fraud related to the pandemic.
A tremendous amount of money was pushed out by the Congress during that time period, and many people took advantage of it. It’s the greatest fraud of our generation. I will tell you, Randy, our greatest focus has been on the PPP loans, because there were over 16,000 of them issued in the Northern District of West Virginia. We’ve identified a large amount of fraud and we are pursuing those matters either through criminal action or civil action. And sometimes there’s a combination. In addition, we’re working closely with Workforce West Virginia to identify those who took advantage of the unemployment insurance that was being pushed out and collected benefits to which they were not entitled.
Yohe: What’s a PPP loan?
Ihlenfeld: So the PPP loan, which stands for Paycheck Protection Program, was rolled out by Congress. The purpose was to help businesses stay open, but allow their employees to stay at home. The idea was to keep people from spreading the virus.
The PPP loans allowed businesses to pay for payroll, to pay for their mortgage interest, if they had a mortgage on their business, to pay their rent and to pay their utilities. Funding also went to to protect their workers who might need the personal protective equipment and other certain operational expenses. There were billions in these loans that were pushed out to allow businesses to keep their folks at home, but not have to shut down their business during the pandemic or or prior to the pandemic concluding.
If the monies were not used for the intended purposes that I just referenced, then there’s a good chance that there was fraud. And we’ve seen many instances where people received these PPP loans, but didn’t use the money for one of the permissible purposes. For example, someone might have purchased a new automobile for their own personal use instead of using the money for its intended purpose. Then we’ve also had a number of cases where individuals misrepresented the size of their payroll or the number of their employees in order to get a larger loan than what they were really entitled to.
Yohe: James Nolte of Bridgeport was recently sentenced to prison for COVID-19 fraud. Can you briefly go through his case? --->READ MORE HERE
Man charged with $11.5M in COVID-19 pandemic fraud in PA
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that a Maryland man is facing several charges after he falsely filed for pandemic stimulus funds.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified the man as Creed White, 65 of Freeland, Maryland.
According to U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, investigators allege that White owned Aluminum Alloys MFG, LLC, an aluminum smelting and processing business located in York County, Pennsylvania.
Officials say White also owned or controlled 18 other sham corporations that did not have any employees or business operations. White allegedly conspired with others, including several of his employees, and filed over 120 applications on behalf of White’s non-operational businesses for pandemic stimulus funds, including under the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
Attorney Karam says the information alleges that 42 of these loan applications were approved and funded with more than $11,500,000 into bank accounts that White was in control of.
U.S. Attorneys allege the information on the applications White and his co-conspirators filed contained numerous misrepresentations about who owned and operated the non-operational businesses.
Karam says that the PPP and EIDL applications included fraudulent supporting documentation, including false information about the number of employees who reportedly worked at the non-operational businesses, fabricated bank records, financial statements, forged and falsified IRS documents, and material misrepresentations regarding wages paid, taxes withheld and paid, gross receipts, and other expenses allegedly incurred by the applicant businesses. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Albany Restaurateur Pleads Guilty To Covid-19 Relief Fraud

Almost half of Gen Z are ‘germaphobes’ and handwash 10-times or more daily

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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