Darrell Baker, 56, of Michigan, was sentenced after pleading guilty to committing bank fraud and money laundering.
In September 2020, Baker pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud for defrauding a Pennsylvania financial institution of $590,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. He also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering for collecting money from the fraudulent financial transactions that he did not deserve.
In his effort to obtain the PPP funds, Baker submitted an application on behalf of Motor City Solar Energy Inc., a business he purportedly owned. The paperwork listed that there were 68 employees in 2019 who were paid wages and tips that totaled $2.8 million.
It’s important to note that the PPP program, which is managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), provided loans to help legitimate businesses keep their workforces employed during the pandemic. Motor City Solar Energy was not actually an operational business that had any payroll expenses. (Baker thought his false statements would increase the funds he collected, when it really just increased the case against him.)
Baker successfully withdrew $172,000 of the $590,000 loan he was approved for from Customer’s Bank in Pennsylvania. (Fortunately, he was caught in time to freeze the remaining funds.)
With the ill-gotten money he managed to obtain, Baker used four cashier checks to buy two Cadillac Escalades, a Dodge Charger, and a Hummer. (Fraudsters usually have expensive taste when using money that they didn’t have to work hard to earn.)
Baker was sentenced to two years in federal prison and must forfeit the vehicles he purchased. (He truly has no getaway car now.) Baker was ordered to pay a money judgement totaling $172,484.40 and $89,864 in restitution.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Detroit Resident Sentenced In COVID-19 Fraud Scheme,” dated July 13, 2021.
DETROIT – Detroit resident Darrell Baker was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison on charges of bank fraud and money laundering arising out of a $590,000 Covid-19 fraud scheme, announced Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin.
Joining in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Inspector General Hannibal Mike Ware of the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General.