Thursday, March 21, 2024

Just a Matter of Time. Committing pandemic fraud? That's madness. March 2024

 It’s just a matter of time before there’s a knock at the door.
There may still be time to make amends.
BEMA International




It's March Madness, where 68 teams battle for their shot at achieving that one shining moment.

While we can't tell you which collegiate team will win the championship ring, we can show you quite a few organized crime rings that lost when it came to teaming up to steal pandemic relief.

Below are some notable cases where wrongdoers,
much like brackets, were busted. 

March madness bracket image


A #11 seed has never won it all

And it probably won't happen here either, where 11 members of a
multi-state fraud team
were indicted for their alleged roles in a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud scheme. As part of their gameplan, one
of the team leaders allegedly submitted the PPP loan applications on
behalf of each of the co-conspirators and once the loans were funded,
the leader would receive a kickback for up to $5,000.


Unearned Image result for Ring Emoji. Size: 206 x 206. Source:

If you're lucky enough to win it all, you'll have earned a championship ring. Unfortunately, this is a case of a husband and wife who did not earn their bling.

The duo, who pleaded guilty, were part of a 14-person fraud group charged with theft of over $5 million in California state unemployment (UI) benefits. The husband not only collected the benefits but paid out $244,050 to the other members and sent another $200,000+ to associates in Romania. Finally, the couple used over $100,000 in stolen funds on luxury jewelry and a BMW. 


Cheating the game

The glass slipper broke for this team of fraudsters. Three individuals were sentenced for their roles in fraudulently obtaining nearly $3.5 million in PPP relief funds. The trio, as part of a larger fraud ring, worked with co-conspirators to falsify loan applications to financial institutions to collect the funds. One of the individuals was convicted in November 2023 and was found to have used the stolen funds for purchasing jewelry and paying off credit card bills for herself and family members. 


First team All-Fraud

In a massive fraud case, a defendant pleaded guilty to an $18 million PPP and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) fraud scheme. He and multiple co-conspirators prepared fraudulent loan applications in exchange for kickbacks of 20-30% of the loan amount. He also received nearly $1 million in PPP/EIDL funds for businesses he controlled – none
of the businesses actually existed. He used his stolen funds for luxury
trips to Dubai and Egypt and bought a property in Egypt to open a beachfront restaurant.


Rounding out the fraud starting 5

A fraud ringleader was sentenced to 5 years in prison for leading her
five co-defendants and enlisting the help of over 50 associates in a pandemic-related fraud scheme. She personally submitted 125 fraudulent
applications for Emergency Rental Assistance, PPP, EIDL, and UI benefits programs, seeking more than $3.3 million. Her team posed as
fake tenants, landlords, and small business owners in need of assistance to achieve the scheme. She received over $1.2 million in kickback payments for her efforts and used a portion of the money on a Lexus, Range Rover, cosmetic surgery, and jewelry. The group she led attempted to steal nearly $6.8 million in pandemic relief. 


Don't leave it to the professionals

A former professional basketball player was indicted for allegedly falsifying annual revenues for two LLC's in order to obtain over $140,000 in PPP
and EIDL relief. He was also charged with falsely stating he was the sole proprietor of a janitorial service bearing his name in order to receive
another $20,000 in PPP loans.

His indictment came just months after his girlfriend, a reality star on "Basketball Wives LA," was sentenced to four years for her own transgressions, including PPP and EIDL fraud of nearly $200,000. She
used the money to help fund her lavish lifestyle.


🏀 Basketball and Hoop EmojiOur X's and O's🏀 Basketball and Hoop Emoji

The cases above are just a handful of the many examples
of organized groups of criminals stealing pandemic relief money
from the public. To combat this amount of fraud, we need a team of
all-stars to fight back.

The PRAC Fraud Task Force and our Pandemic Analytics
Center of Excellence use advanced analytic tools to
identify potential fraud. 

We are part of an elite DOJ COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force
that works together worldwide to bring pandemic fraudsters
to justice. Collectively this team has seized over $1.4 billion in
stolen relief funds.

Crime cannot win. 


Disclaimer: An indictment is a formal accusation of a serious crime. However, all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) is a committee of the
Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).


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bEMA International

Washington, D.C.

Cooperation, Collaboration, Communication, Coordination, Community engagement, and  Partnering (C5&P)


A 501 (c) 3 organization

"It is my belief that the best results in business come from a creative process, from the ability to see things differently from everyone else, and from finding answers to problems that are not bound by the phrase 'we have always done it this way.' "  Wayne Rogers








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