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Children See, Children Do

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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Those kids sure have a habit of imitating parents. Children learn mostly by watching and imitating their parents. As a result, along with the good habits they pick up from their parents, they pick up some bad ones too. India Cook was just imitating her dad, Rodney Cook, when she started filing fraudulent COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans. After all, Rodney was committing fraud long before the pandemic came around.

For years, Rodney Cook owned a real estate business that consists of about 50 rental properties. He purchased these rental properties through a federal government program that was exclusively for owner-occupants who planned to live in the purchased properties. It is a government benefit program designed to help low-income families overcome wealth barriers. To buy multiple properties, Cook used “straw buyers.” A straw buyer is a person who purchases on behalf of another person and is used when the real buyer cannot complete the transaction for some reason. But there must be a legitimate reason! Cooks only reason was to commit fraud which went undetected until India started imitating her dad.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, India, with the assistance of her dad, began to file fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster loans. The applications, submitted under the names of several fraudulent companies, were “false and contradicted each other” according to prosecutors. But didn’t contradict each other enough for the banks to not issue her money. India and Rodney ultimately received nearly $350,000 in COVID-19 relief loans.

Children learn by copying. Maybe Rodney should have asked himself what he was teaching his daughter!

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Woman and her dad lied to get almost $350,000 in COVID-19 relief loans” published by the Cincinnati Enquirer on February 6, 2024.

A woman on Tuesday joined her father in admitting responsibility for fraud related to COVID-19 relief money. India Cook, 37, pleaded guilty in federal court in Cincinnati to four counts of making false statements on COVID-19 relief loan applications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In 2020 and 2021, Cook, of College Hill, filed fraudulent applications for two kinds of loans, including one designed so businesses could keep their employees during the pandemic. Economic Injury Disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans are typically forgiven.

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