$17 Million Admissions of Guilt

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Close-up Of A Businessperson's Hand Giving Cheque To Colleague At Workplace

The District of Columbia is home to the Supreme Court, the Commander-in-Chief, and most recently, a man who has been indicted on federal charges alleging that he attempted  to steal more than $17 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury and Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds. (According to Zillow, that amount would almost get you a 4-bedroom condo with 7 baths overlooking the Potomac River in Georgetown. The closet alone is bigger than my kitchen and family room combined.)

Elias Eldabbagh, 30, is accused of stealing tax returns and identities from a Washington, D.C. consulting firm so he could apply for PPP and EIDL loans. Eldabbagh allegedly claimed that the tax returns and list of employees belonged to his company, Alias Systems, LLC. (You’d think an entrepreneur would have better business sense.) The indictment alleges that Eldabbagh attempted to fraudulently gain a total of $17 million in loans from PPP and EIDL programs.

Eldabbagh allegedly carried out this scheme from July 2020 to July 2021, during which time he filed at least 13 fraudulent PPP loan applications and an EIDL application in the name of Alias System. He allegedly doctored the stolen identities and stolen tax return to appear to be documents belonging to Alias Systems. (Everyone who has photoshop suddenly thinks they’re a forgery mastermind who can outsmart the IRS.)

Based on these applications, Eldabbagh fraudulently obtained more than $2.3 million PPP and EIDL funds. He purportedly used a portion of these illegally obtained funds to purchase a 2020 Tesla. (He should’ve gotten a newer model, because this one clearly failed as a getaway car.) The indictment further alleges that Eldabbagh attempted to transfer or obtain funds that had been lawfully seized by Special Agents of IRS Criminal Investigation.

Eldabbagh has been charged with five counts of wire fraud, 14 counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, 14 counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure.

If convicted, Eldabbagh faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, ten years in prison for each count of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, two years in prison for each aggravated identity theft count, and five years in prison for the count of destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure. (I hope taking a Tesla for a joy ride was worth it, because by the time he’s out we’ll all have flying cars.)

The indictment also included a notification of the United States’ intent to seek the forfeiture of his 20 bank accounts and a 2020 Tesla purchased with the proceeds of the fraud.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “D..C. Man Indicted on Charges in Scheme to Steal More Than $17 Million in COVID-19 Relief Funds,” published on August 20, 2021.

WASHINGTON – A District of Columbia man has been indicted on federal charges alleging that he perpetrated a scheme to steal more than $17 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury and Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds.

The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Acting Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office. The indictment was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.