Committing Fraud to Pay for Another Fraud

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Like most of the fraudsters who scammed the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program, Amber and Anthony Bruey, proud parents of four in Lehigh Acres, FL, developed a standard scheme to bilk the United States taxpayers. What puts Amber and Anthony in the platinum level of fraud may have been what they planned to spend their illegally gained funds on.

In April 2020 and June 2020, the loan applications the Bruey’s filed contained the standard false representations found in other fraudulent applications, including fictitious criminal history, dates of operation, number of employees, gross revenues and even falsified federal income tax documents returns.  The Buey’s filed a total of 26 fraudulent applications and Small Business Administration approved 12 of the loans, allowing the Bruey’s to collect $881,058.35 in PPP and EIDL funds.

But here is where it gets different for our fraudsters.  Just like most fraudsters, the couple went on to purchase high end items such as a 2019 GMC Yukon XL, 2021 Chevrolet Spark LS, 2020 Honda Talon, 2020 Polaris RZR, and a $211,457 residence in North Carolina. But their spending spree didn’t start till after they settled a $23,566 restitution payment in a previous criminal case for Amber Bruey. This was not Amber’s first foray into fraud it turns out, having been previously convicted of stealing public assistance funds.

Amber did not learn her lesson the first time and now faces a bigger penalty.  In federal court, the couple pled guilty to committing wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The judge sentenced full restitution of $881,659 and Anthony Bruey was sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison.  Amber Bruey was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison but the judge gave her six months to deliver the couple’s fifth baby on February 25th, 2023.

Great job by the Internal Revenue Service in this investigation

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Former Lehigh Acres couple get prison in COVID fraud case; wife to give birth before reporting” published by Fort Myers News on July 14, 2022

A judge labeled a former Lehigh Acres married couple’s COVID fraud case as “greed” while sentencing them Wednesday to federal prison despite the woman being newly pregnant.A federal indictment filed Aug. 25 against Amber Rewis Bruey, 35, and Anthony James Bruey, 36, charged the couple with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and illegal monetary transactions.

The couple lived in Lehigh Acres when the fraud was taking place and moved to North Carolina shortly before the indictment was issued. U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber on Wednesday admonished the couple for the theft of more than $881,000 in COVID-19 relief funds saying, “This is called greed. This should be an episode of American Greed.”

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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.