Buckle Your Seatbelt

Photo shows weekly salary on pay slip against US dollars in the background. Photo taken 04/02/16 in UK.

Buckle your seatbelt, folks. Today’s fraud case is a doozy. Michael C. Moller, 42 of Middletown, R.I. not only committed four armed bank robberies while on home confinement for a previous tax fraud conviction, but he also stole more than $4.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. (He’s quite the enterprising fraudster.)

While Moller was on federal supervised release after completing his term of incarceration for committing four bank robberies, he was quite the busy bee. According to court documents, he submitted 11 fake PPP loan applications in his own name and in the names of his father and his girlfriend’s son and brother. (He was seeking $4,725,742, but only received $599,251.) 

It appears that Moller had quite the criminal past, even before the tax fraud and bank robberies. He was previously convicted nine times in state courts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses. (“Repeat offender” doesn’t quite describe this criminal.)

While awaiting sentencing for stealing funds from the PPP, which was designed to assist small businesses struggling to survive because of the pandemic, Moller kept himself occupied by defrauding two of his fellow inmates at the Wyatt Detention Center. He persuaded these two very unlucky men to hand over thousands of dollars in return for the services of a purported lawyer who would help them with their criminal and immigration cases. (It stands to reason that no one should ever trust another prisoner to help you get out of prison. They would have had better success using spoons to dig their way out.)

Moller probably didn’t realize that the FBI monitored calls from within the detention center where he impersonated an attorney named “Sam.” The prisoner-in-disguise persuaded his victims to hand over the cash. The wife of one of the inmates delivered $5,000 to Moller’s girlfriend and a friend of the other inmate delivered $12,000 in cash. One of the victims was told by Moller to “pack his belongings” because bail had been posted. (Gullible, to say the least.)

What happened to the $17,000 in cash, you ask? Recorded conversations reveal that the cash was spent on marijuana, gambling and on Moller’s commissary account at the Wyatt Detention Center. So, it’s no surprise that Moller received a sentence of 82 months and one day in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. And he must also pay the banks a total of $599,251 in restitution. (Something tells me that this punishment may not keep him from coming up with another scheme.) 

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Rhode Island Man Who Sought $4.7 Million in COVID Relief Loans Sentenced for Defrauding CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program,” dated October 12, 2021.

PROVIDENCE – For the second time in one week, a defendant has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence, RI, to a significant term of incarceration in federal prison for defrauding or attempting to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus.

Today, Michael C. Moller, 42, a Middletown, R.I., man previously convicted and sentenced to 108 months in federal prison for committing four armed bank robberies while on home confinement for an even earlier tax fraud conviction, was sentenced to 82 months and one day in federal prison for fraudulently seeking more than $4.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans and violating the terms of his term of federal supervised release.

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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.