COVID Feature: A Missed Shot

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A high school basketball coach from Fort Lauderdale has been accused of defrauding relief programs intended for those impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic. Terrance Williams has been arrested and charged on numerous counts of financial crimes related to defrauding COVID-19 relief programs out of nearly $1 million dollars.

Williams is the coach of the state championship-winning boys’ basketball team at Stranahan High School. He now faces bank fraud and money laundering charges for fraudulently obtaining $984,710 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. (He doesn’t seem to be setting a very good example for his players.)

PPP loans are funded through the CARES Act and distributed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Qualifying businesses may receive PPP loans to be used for expenses such as rent, mortgages, and overhead costs. These loans are forgivable if a certain amount of the loans go towards job retention and making payroll. (They are not forgivable if you use the funds to purchase collector basketball shoes.)

Prosecutors claim that Williams fraudulently applied for and received a PPP loan of $984,710 on behalf of his company, Williams Consulting Group LLC. Williams allegedly lied on his loan application stating that his company employed 67 people and had an average monthly payroll of $393,884. Federal officials state that the company has no recorded employees in Florida. (Fraudsters never seem to think the government will dot their i’s and cross their t’s.)

Williams is accused of laundering the loan money through different personal bank accounts. He also allegedly applied for and received unemployment insurance benefits in addition to the PPP loans received. Other charges against Williams include making false statements to a financial institution and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. (He committed the quadfecta of white-collar crimes.)

Over the past three years, Williams has coached for his alma mater, Stranahan High School. He led them to two consecutive state championship titles. (Looks like he missed his shot at going for a third.) Williams was recognized as the Sun Sentinel Coach of the Year two years in a row. He was also named Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year. (He could very well be in the running for “Inmate of the Year” in the near future.)

Anyone with information about fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Stranahan High coach charged with defrauding COVID-19 fund out of nearly $1 million,” published by MSN on November 14, 2020.

Terrence Williams, a state championship-winning high school basketball coach in Fort Lauderdale, has been arrested on charges of defrauding a COVID-19 relief program out of nearly $1 million, federal records show.

Federal officials charged Williams, who coaches the boys’ basketball team at Stranahan High, on numerous counts of financial crimes, including bank fraud

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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.