Start Up Guy

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Joshua Leavitt describes himself on LinkedIn as a “start-up guy.” But one activity Leavitt appears to have“started up” is fraud. On July 29, 2022, Leavitt pled guilty to bank fraud in conjunction with a forgivable $125,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan.

Leavitt and his co-defendant Pierre Rogers submitted on May 6, 2020, an application under the company name of Puro Group. Puro Group, one of seven companies the fraudster due had made, were all connect to online wine-buying services and cigar auction and trading.

Included in the application was a Q1 2022 tax return claiming that Puro Group paid their employees $209,000 in wages and $27,600 in taxes. But Leavitt was a “start up guy” and not a “tax filing guy”.  Apparently, this document was never filed.  Instead, Puro Groups annual filing showed that it only paid out $48,255 in total wages for 2022!

In addition, the attached payroll summary was identical to another payroll summary submitted by Rogers on another PPP loan. That indicated to authorities that Rogers and Leavitt were getting two PPP loans for the same workers during the same hours worked. Oops.

Rogers and Leavitt fraudulently applied for at least $5 million in federal pandemic funds for all seven of their businesses.  In a plea agreement, charges were dropped for all charges against Leavitt except wire fraud pertaining to an Economic Disaster Injury loan for another one of their companies.  Monticello Transnational.  Monticello Transnational is identified as a “payment processing partner” to Puro Trader.  A lesser sentence has been recommended for Leavitt in exchange for cooperation in his own case and the case against Rogers.

Great job by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement on investigating this case.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Serial entrepreneur faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine” published by NH Business Review on July 29, 2022

A self-described serial entrepreneur has agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud in conjunction with a forgivable $125,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan to an online cigar and wine business, according to a plea agreement filed with the U.S. District Court on Thursday.The filing is one more example of increased prosecution of PPP fraud nationally and locally.

Joshua Leavitt, 40, of Northwood, with his co-defendant Pierre Rogers, formerly of Bedford, submitted on May 6 an application to TD Bank for Puro Group, one of the seven companies the two were involved in, allegedly claiming a monthly payroll of $70,000 and six employees.  Rogers (who is not part of the plea agreement) allegedly signed the application and Leavitt was listed as the contact person, according the plea agreement.

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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.