Major COVID-19 Fraud Investigation Leads to Charges in Eastern Georgia Region
Six people have been charged with felony charges and nearly $ 400,000 has been seized in the Southern District of Georgia over the alleged submission of fraudulent loan applications for pandemic relief funds.
In response to the devastating negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted in March 2020. The CARES Act authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) ) provide and / or guarantee loans specifically designed to keep small businesses afloat during the unprecedented financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. Charges in the Augusta area announced today allege that individuals exploited these programs for their own financial gain and demanded relief payments through a series of false and fraudulent statements regarding the existence, the gross income and the number of employees in their business in order to receive an Economic Disaster Loans (EIDL) and / or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. District Attorney southern Georgia.
According to the indictments, these individuals made false statements to the SBA and / or financial institutions about small businesses allegedly owned in the Augusta area. The indictments allege that each of the defendants fraudulently obtained relief funds for small businesses that were suffering the negative economic impacts of the pandemic:
- Whitney Adwan Mack, 33, of Louisville, Ga., The alleged owner of four different businesses, is charged with wire fraud and misuse of a Social Security number for making false statements to the SBA regarding her gross income. company, the number of employees and the use of a Social Security Number that did not belong to it.
- Jada S. Nelson, 20 and Sonya Barnes, 41, both from Augusta, are charged with wire fraud and aiding and abetting to make false statements to the SBA regarding the existence, gross income and number of employees at their company.
- Rose mary coleman, 57, from Augusta, is charged with wire fraud for making false statements to the SBA about the gross income and number of employees at her company.
- Orell Plummer, 41, from Augusta, is charged with wire fraud for making false statements to the SBA about his company’s gross income and number of employees.
- Darryl T. Williams, Sr., 52, from Augusta, is charged with wire fraud for making false statements to the SBA and a financial lender regarding the gross income and number of employees of his businesses.
Additionally, in a separate case, the United States filed a forfeiture complaint to recover $ 383,456.21 of funds that were seized and believed to be the result of fraudulent SBA loan submissions.
“Amid the pandemic, millions of Americans were suffering from devastating economic conditions,” said US Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “It is inconceivable that some would seek to profit from this devastation by setting up bogus companies and fabricating financial information. This office will continue to devote significant resources to stopping those fraudsters who are profiting from the pandemic. “
“The citizens and businesses of this country rely on the United States Secret Service and its federal law enforcement, as well as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to protect it and to maintain the public confidence,” the resident agent said. in charge of the Secret’s Glen M. Kessler. Service Bureau Savannah. “These criminal cases brought today are expected to have a powerful deterrent effect on those who plan to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to enrich themselves through fraud. These defendants took money that was intended for legitimate businesses that could have benefited greatly from funds provided by the US government, but which were instead used to make money. Tackling the threat of COVID-19 cyber scams requires an immediate response to protect our nation in these unprecedented times. “
“The pandemic has been a burden for so many Georgians,” said Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “It is inexcusable to defraud the government with funds intended for hard-working business owners. The GBI is committed to working with our partners to investigate these crimes.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
These cases are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Inspector General of the Treasury for Tax Administration, Social Security Administration, the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration, and the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration. Georgia Bureau of Investigation. These cases are being pursued by Deputy U.S. Attorneys Patrick J. Schwedler, J. Thomas Clarkson, Jonathan A. Porter, and Jennifer A. Stanley, and the seizure and confiscation action has been brought by the U.S. Deputy Attorney and Chief of the Asset Recovery Unit, Xavier A. Cunningham.