COVID Feature: Nowhere to Fly Away To

Online thieves stealing your money

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security (CARES) Act was passed in March 2020 to provide economic assistance to struggling families and businesses who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Fraudsters have abused the programs enacted by the CARES Act for their own financial gain at the expense of vulnerable Americans. In fact, the Department of Justice has busted dozens of people accused of stealing nearly $200 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so far.

A Leeseburg, Va. man is accused of fraudulently receiving $2,501,753 in PPP loans that he is not entitled to. Didier Kindambu allegedly used the money to buy a luxurious car and an airplane.

PPP loans, which are low interest government approved loans, are distributed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans are intended to alleviate the financial strain put on small businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic. PPP loans can be forgivable if they are used for payroll expenses or other business purposes. (This case does not appear to be one of those that will be forgiven.) 

Kindambu submitted loan applications for two legitimate businesses that he owns, but allegedly created fraudulent payroll documentation for each one. He claimed that he needed PPP loans to sustain his significant payroll. (Apparently, he also needed to fulfill his desire to have a new luxury car and an airplane. Sounds like someone got his needs mixed up with his wants.)   

On his loan applications, Kindambu claimed that he had 18 full-time employees which generated a $7.2 million dollar payroll per year. Investigators have stated they believe most of the employees listed on the application do not exist and the payroll amounts were fictitious. (Those 19 employees made an average of about $379,000 each. I didn’t know pilots got paid so much.) One of the businesses Kindambu listed on his application was Papilion Air. Kindambu is listed as the president of the recently formed aviation company that flies out of Leesburg Executive Airport. 

Kindambu is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He could also be forced to pay a $1 million dollar fine and potentially be required to pay additional restitution. (Seems like a small price to pay for taking millions away from individuals and families who are truly in need.) The charges against him are pending and Kindambu is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. (There’s no flying away from facing the consequences of his actions.)  

If you suspect you are a victim of COVID-19 fraud or believe someone is committing fraud, contact the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submit a NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “DOJ claims Va. man fraudulently used $2 million from CARES Act to buy Lexus and airplane,” posted on on October 20, 2020.

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — UPDATE: Didier Kindambu remains in a federal jail cell after being denied freedom in a detention hearing on Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, VA.

The government argued that Didier Kindambu was a flight risk because he has a pilot’s license and access to three planes. They also say he has extensive overseas assets and is a non-US citizen here on a temporary visa.


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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.