A Fraudster’s Team

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In March of 2019, the United States government announced the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jemar Mason saw an opportunity. An opportunity for fraud. So he called his team of people he trusted the most. Andre Jackson, a former police officer from Georgia; Jackson’s “accountant;” a local used-car salesman; and David Kurbanov, a drug user. Such a diverse group! But all had talents that were important to Mason. Because when he wasn’t busy scheming to steal from the U.S. government during the day, at night Mason was a drug dealer. And it took a $1.495 million COVID Paycheck Protection Program fraud scheme to finally get him in jail.

Mason exploited the program to obtain approximately $1.495 million in fraud proceeds. His team worked together to prepare fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans. When they received the funds, Mason and his team would hide the proceeds by marking expenditures like car purchases as “payroll” expenses. They attempted to wire $500,000 to an overseas bank account in order to invest the money for their own profit. It was through that transaction that the Internal Revenue Service investigators discovered the fraud. Which also led to the discovery of the drug dealing.

After obtaining a Title III wire intercept, investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration learned that Mason and his team were actively dealing drugs throughout West Michigan. Search warrants later uncovered multiple stash locations that were used to hide drugs, firearms, and drug dealing tools.

Shout out to the Investigators from the Internal Revenue Service for acting quickly.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Grand Rapids man sentenced in COVID relief fraud plot” published by The Detroit News on December 21, 20220:20

A Grand Rapids man has been sentenced to 87 months in prison for his role in a plot to take more than $1.4 million COVID-19 relief funds and distribute drugs, federal officials said Wednesday.

Jemar Mason, 47, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering to spend six years on supervised release after his confinement and pay $1,495,067 in restitution.

“Instead of treating the COVID-19 pandemic as a tragedy, Jemar Mason welcomed it as an opportunity to get rich quick. He took money intended to keep workers from losing their jobs, all while dealing cocaine,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten for the Western District of Michigan. “My office remains committed to holding fraudsters fully accountable for their misdeeds.”

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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.