Potholes Full of Fraud

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

For kicks and giggles, website The Clunker Junker ranked every state according to how many pothole complaints are registered on Twitter per 1000 km, or 621 miles, of road. California placed 5th in states with the most pothole complaints. It had 18.4 complaints for every 1000 km (621 miles) of road to be exact. And you know people are fed up with potholes when they take matters into their own hands. The mayor of Vallejo, California, had to ask residents to stop taking it upon themselves to fix potholes in their community, claiming such “pothole vigilantism” presented a liability problem. Not sure what the liability problem might be, but based on those numbers, keeping a pothole business afloat during a pandemic seems almost essential.

In May 2020, Oumar Sissoko received $7.25 million from a pandemic relief Payment Protection Program loan. Sissoko claimed the money would be used for his pothole repair company, Road Doctor California LLC, which was about to hire 450 workers with a combined monthly payroll of $2.9 million. But Sissoko did what all COVID-19 fraudsters have done when he received the funds. He went shopping.

Just  days after the PPP loan was funded, on May 1, 2020, Sissoko proceeded to use the loan funds for non-business purposes, such as purchasing a Mercedes-Benz for $113,000, paying off a loan on a BMW, and buying an Apple computer for more than $5,000. Sissoko also put a $100,000 non-refundable down payment to purchase a company located in New Hampshire. And the illegal uses of the loan by Sissoko also included an attempted transmission of approximately $150,000 to accounts in the African nation of Mauritania that were associated with a mineral-exploration company. Who was the CEO of this company? Sissoko.

None of those purchases were going to retain jobs at Road Doctor California. Sissoko was found guilty of mail fraud and was sentenced on November 22, 2022 to a 60 month prison term and ordered to pay $499,827 in restitution.

Great job by the Department of Justice and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section with prosecuting this case.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on an article “Murrieta man gets 5 years for using COVID funds to buy Apple computer, Mercedes-Benz” published by The Press-Enterprise on November 22, 2023

A Murrieta man who obtained a COVID business relief loan of more than $7 million for his pothole-repair company was sentenced Tuesday, Nov. 22, to five years behind bars for using hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Paycheck Protection Program funds for personal expenses including luxury cars.

During his sentencing hearing in Los Angeles, Oumar Sissoko, 59, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter to pay $499,827 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Sissoko was convicted in April of four counts of wire 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.