COVID Feature: Slice of the Pie

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Male hands counting dollars, black salary, money laundering, illegal business, stock footage

Six individuals from Georgia and South Carolina have been indicted for their role in a larger conspiracy to illegally obtain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Through a COVID-19-related fraud scheme, these co-conspirators fraudulently procured millions in PPP loans for businesses located within the two states.

Rodericque Thompson allegedly recruited Micah Baisden, Travis Crosby, Keith Maloney, Thomas Wilson and Tabronx Smith to apply for PPP loans on behalf of their respective businesses. These businesses include PowerHouse Sports Academy, Faithful Transport Services, KMJ Transport, Market Yourself and Rare Breed Nation. (You’d think a group of entrepreneurs would know a bad business idea when they heard one.)

Thompson also allegedly helped Micah Baisden, Travis Crosby, Maloney, Smith, and Wilson obtain a $300,000 PPP loan in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds. He did this by helping them to submit fraudulent loan applications that contained false statements about their businesses.

Each of the loan applications falsely claimed that their individual businesses retained 16 employees and had a monthly payroll of $120,000. Identical falsified quarterly tax returns were also submitted in connection with each loan application. (Did they really think the government wouldn’t notice that the tax returns were the same? If you’re going to carry out a scam, at least get creative with the numbers.)

In total, the group was able to obtain approximately $3 million in PPP loans, but fortunately, authorities have recovered $1,195,784.98 of the stolen funds. This group of six was charged in Georgia with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and money laundering. (Just remember, the group of friends that commit fraud together usually go to jail together.)

The indictment against the group alleges that the defendants used the PPP loan funds for personal expenses and did not use it on payroll or business expenses as required. An additional five individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with this alleged scheme. (Everyone wanted a slice of the pie, but it looks like they took more than their fair share.)  

If you are aware of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at www.justice.gov/DisasterComplaintForm.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Gwinnett County man among six indicted in $2.7 million Paycheck Protection Program scheme,” published by Gwinnett Daily Post on February 2, 2021.

Six people, who operated as part of a larger group, have been indicted for fraudulently obtaining approximately $1.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans on behalf of five businesses based in Georgia and South Carolina, Department of Justice officials recently announced.

One of those six is Tabronx W. Smith, 43, of Buford. Five others involved in this scheme have already pleaded guilty, DOJ officials said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.