Pandemic Pay

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There is a common myth that the memo line on a check has legal force – actually it doesn’t. It’s there just for informational purposes. Filling out the line that says “Memo” is optional, but helpful for knowing why you wrote the check. It was helpful for Brandon Casutt to keep track of which checks he used to commit COVID-19 fraud!

From April 2020 through July 2020, Casutt submitted at least 11 fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications, intending to obtain more than $5.7 million, on behalf of two entities he controlled.  Two of these fraudulent applications actually received funding. First, a PPP loan for approximately $350,000 in the name of a business called Sky DeSign; secondly, an EIDL for approximately $150,000 in the name of a charity called Skyler’s C.F. Foundation. The loan applications indicated that each entity had numerous employees, significant payroll expenses, and substantial revenue. However, in reality the entities had few if any employees, paid little or no wages, and had little if no revenues.

After receiving the PPP funds, Casutt then laundered the proceeds by writing a series of fictitious payroll checks. From approximately May 18, 2020, to June 18, 2020, the Casutt wrote dozens of checks, each in the amount of $8,330, from the bank account holding the PPP loan to himself, family members, and friends. On many of the checks, he falsely wrote “pandemic pay” or “back pay” in the check memo.

These fictitious paychecks were cashed or deposited, and then, within days, Casutt had the funds diverted to a bank account in the name of Skyler’s C.F. Foundation. The charity foundation Casutt established apparently for fraud. Casutt then used the PPP funds, along with the EIDL funds, to purchase a $400,000 house in Henderson, into which he and his family moved in June 2020.

On October 14, 2022, Casutt pled guilty today to fraudulently obtaining over $500,000 in PPP and EIDL loans.  Sentence date has yet to be set.

Great job by the FBI and the IRS with working together on this case.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on an article “Henderson man pleads guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud” published by the Las Vegas Sun on October 14, 2022

A Henderson man pleaded guilty Friday to fraudulently obtaining over half a million dollars for COVID-19 relief and then laundering those funds through family and friends to buy a $400,000 house, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.

Brandon Casutt, 51, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and concealment money laundering after receiving more than $500,000 in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program — which provided relief related to COVID-19 and financial disruption caused by the pandemic.

 

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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.