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PPP Funds Doled out to Fake Employees: $35 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme

Date Published
Dec 20, 2021

December 20, 2021. A total of 15 individuals have been charged in connection with a conspiracy to obtain and launder millions of dollars from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to court records, the defendants falsified both their average monthly payroll and number of employees on their PPP applications. Once they received the funds through these fraudulent applications, the defendants “laundered a portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds by writing checks from companies that received PPP loans to fake employees.” According to the allegations, the defendants laundered over $3 million in loan proceeds via 1,100 fake paychecks cashed at a check-cashing company. By way of penalties for criminal charges, defendants face 20 years in prison per count of wire fraud, 10 years in prison per count of money laundering, and additional time for aggravated identity theft.

COVID-19-related fraud is unfortunately virulent, and prosecution of such is carried out by the Fraud Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. Since the CARES Act was passed at the end of March 2020, the “Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds.”

If you would like to report CARES Act fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at

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