COVID Feature: Fraud Debris

Binary data with the word IDENTITY appears in the shadow of a hand. Concept for digital crime. Blue toned image.

A business owner from Virginia Beach, Va., is one of the latest to be accused of fraudulently obtaining coronavirus relief loans and using the funds for personal expenses. (Scott Suber is currently facing one count of bank fraud for being extremely selfish, amongst other illegal things.) 

Suber admitted to obtaining Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for his business, Debris or Not Debris Property Preservation Inc., and then misallocating those funds. (I have to admit the name of his company is very clever, but as you’ll see, his fraud scheme was not to be.)

Suber obtained a $350,000 PPP loan, which was supposed to be used for his payroll, lease, and utilities. (Spoiler alert, it was used to bankroll his personal vacations.)

PPP loans are funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed in March 2020. They are distributed through the Small Business Administration (SBA) to struggling small businesses.

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 toward job retention and making payroll. (I don’t think the government will be quick to forgive Suber in this case.)

Instead of using the funds on business expenses, Suber is accused of making large cash withdrawals and using the money to fund his travel to Las Vegas. (This isn’t the first fraudster to use PPP loans to go to Las Vegas. Everyone wants to party like it’s 1999 instead of 2020.) Suber is expected to plead guilty in court to one count of bank fraud.

Bob McNab, economics expert and professor at Old Dominion University, explained that COVID fraud causes a debacle for struggling Americans as well for the government. “We need to stimulate the economy to prevent further tragedy in an economic sense, but also to steward the funds to make sure the taxpayers are confident that the government is spending the funds to the best of their ability,” said McNab. (Fraudsters are definitely not good stewards of these funds.) McNab also asserted that whenever the government provides programs like this, fraudsters can’t resist the temptation to see a “big pot of money”.

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

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Virginia Beach business owner accused of using PPP loan money on himself and travel,” published by WTKR on December 2, 2020.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Virginia Beach business owner is facing federal charges for taking COVID-19 relief money and spending it on himself when it was supposed to be used for business.

39-year-old Scott Suber from Virginia Beach is facing one count of 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.