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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Apple’s value proposition is to provide customers with products that have a unique blend of style, functionality, and innovation that deliver unparalleled user experience and satisfaction. And callers want in on the Apple lifestyle. The latest statistics on the smartphone market share worldwide show that as of April 2023, US phone maker Apple leads the pack, with a global market share of 30.44%. Impressive since the Apple Lifestyle doesn’t come cheap. Whether you buy or lease a new iPhone, it will cost less in North America than anywhere else, thanks to tariffs and duties. Darwyn Joseph saw an opportunity to capitalize on the international smartphone demand in his home country of the Dominican Republic. By “importing” iPhones though the back door of the Dominican Republic International Airport, there would be tariffs or duties, giving Joseph the dollar add advantage he needed to sell his phones. All of this, funded by the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 

Between approximately April and December 2020, Joseph used stolen identity information of United States citizens to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans and to open fraudulent bank accounts which were then linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the SBA funds. All while using his iPhone. Not really the Apple Lifestyle that Apple markets.

Over $452,000 in SBA funds were fraudulently obtained in connection with this scheme. Approximately $250,000 of this money was then used to purchase iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The remaining amount was wired to bank accounts in the Dominican Republic.

More than $450,0000 in COVID-related disaster loan funds were obtained and the funds were then laundered, authorities said.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Lawrence man pleads guilty to stealing $450K in COVID relief funds” published by The Eagle Tribune on July 13, 2023

A Lawrence man pleaded guilty Wednesday to using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain $450,000 in federal disaster loan funds, which were wired to the Dominican Republic and also used to purchase iPhones, authorities said.

Darwyn Joseph, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting, according to a statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy in Boston. Joseph is scheduled for sentencing in federal court on Oct. 19 as a result of an investigation by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

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