In a short period of time COVID-19 has certainly left an impression on all of us – one we will not likely forget anytime soon. Similarly, while a fraudulent crime can reap lots of money over a short period of time, the repercussions are often felt long after the crime is committed.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Taunton, Mass., man took advantage of a short-term unemployment program set up to assist individuals who were not eligible for other types of unemployment benefits. He allegedly stole more than $67,000 from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program while employed and collecting a full-time salary. (There’s no doubt that his selfishness had a lasting impact on those who were deserving of the benefits but couldn’t get them.)
Clark Grant, 38, was charged with one count of wire fraud for purportedly submitting fraudulent PUA claims and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application. (He apparently applied for a mortgage but lied on the application.) And with those statements, it’s important to point out that the details in Grant’s charging documents are merely allegations and he is considered innocent unless he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. (Stay tuned for the verdict.)
According to Grant’s charging documents, he fraudulently applied for and received $67,950 in PUA benefits while holding down a full-time job. (Apparently, he began his double-dipping ruse in May 2020, not long after the pandemic hit the U.S., and carried it out until September 2021.)
During the same time, it appears that he lied to a mortgage lender so he could obtain a $410,000 mortgage. (Everyone should be so lucky to have an extra income stream, compliments of the Federal Government. Meanwhile, other unlucky individuals couldn’t make payments on their mortgages.)
It’s up to the judge to determine if Grant is guilty or not. If so, the defendant could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for submitting fake PUA claims. For making false statements on a credit application, Grant could receive a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million.
While the PUA program shut down on September 6, we are likely to hear about many more cases of COVID-19 related fraud as we navigate the ongoing pandemic situation. Thankfully, the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force is committed to tracking down and stopping fraudsters who have taken advantage of programs that were meant for individuals who truly deserve the assistance.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Taunton Man Charged with Pandemic Unemployment and Mortgage Fraud,” dated October 19, 2021.
BOSTON – A Taunton man was arrested today in connection with making alleged fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and for making false statements in support of a residential mortgage application.
Clark Grant, 38, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application. Grant will make an initial appearance in Boston this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein.