Three people are facing charges for allegedly stealing approximately $1 M in COVID-19 relief funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina reported that during an investigation of a possible fraud case, it was discovered that between March and November 2021, almost $1 M was fraudulently taken from the PPP.
It was believed that the money was stolen through many fraudulent applications that were submitted for PPP relief in different states for businesses that were not real.
The investigation led the authorities to a former employee at a North Carolina bank. The 33-year-old woman used to work as a fraud analyst at a Wells Fargo in Charlotte.
It was asserted that the woman, a second female party, and the second woman’s boyfriend worked together in an alleged fraud scheme.
According to reports, the woman from the bank charged up to $5,000 to each person who wanted her to fraudulently make an application that would provide them with relief funds. It was estimated that she created and submitted more than 30 applications which totaled $990,000 in relief for the alleged fake businesses.
The second party was also working at a financial institution, and she “electronically filed two PPP loans in her own name using forged and fictitious federal income tax documents,” leading to her and her boyfriend getting $100,000 each, according to a release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They also reported that the other woman was the one who prepared those forms.
The woman was taken into custody and jailed on one count of wire fraud conspiracy, and 16 separate counts of wire fraud.
The second party and her boyfriend are each facing one count of wire fraud conspiracy.
If convicted as charged, each count of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a theft offense, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.