In 2010, Lauren Owen was hired by her employer as a secretary. Owen’s duties included handling the financial books and records for the company, paying bills and preparing checks for legitimate business expenses, overseeing payroll, hiring, and firing personnel. And then she climbed that corporate ladder and was eventually promoted to vice president and sole financial officer. Being the only one in power is a happy place for a fraudster. Owen began to issue unauthorized checks to herself, make payments on her personal credit cards using company funds, and unauthorized wage payments to herself from her employer’s accounts. These fraudulent transactions totaled more than $750,000 loss to her employer, who wasn’t happy and terminated her employment immediately.
What’s a gal to do after being fired? She files for CARES Act Pandemic relief loans. After losing her job in November of 2021, Owen devised a plan to file falsified applications for COVID-19 relief loans, on behalf of Platinum Assets, LLC, a company she owned and controlled. The problem is that Owen lied on the application stating that she’d never been criminally charged, when in fact she started the application right after her arraignment for embezzlement from her previous employer. While a criminal case was not automatically disqualifying, SBA required that every applicant’s principle be “of good character” and would require a character evaluation for people with prior conviction or a recent case. Owen deliberately withheld the information about her indictment.
Owen clearly lacked all principles pertaining to good character. After approving the loan, the SBA deposited more than $384,000 in Owen’s bank account whereafter Owen improperly misapplied the loan proceeds by purchasing a 2018 Chevrolet Corvette, a 40-foot yacht and paying off a loan on a 2018 Ford F-250. On November 27, 2023, Owen was sentenced for COVID-19 fraud and also income tax fraud as she failed to report her fraudulent earnings from her prior embezzlement. Fraudsters don’t like to pay taxes on their crime!
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Jenks woman sentenced to prison in $1 million-plus fraud scheme” published by Tulsa World on November 27, 2023
A Jenks woman who admitted stealing from her employer and using a pandemic-era government loan program to buy a Corvette and a 40-foot boat was sentenced to prison Monday.
Senior U.S. District Judge Terence Kern sentenced Lauren Michelle Owen, 40, to serve 27 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Owen pleaded guilty Jan. 26 as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors to one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.