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COVID Frauds of the Week: PPP Loan Scams Continue, NFL Player Charged

Posted  September 11, 2020

Another week in the time of COVID-19 brings another round of conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with relief programs designed to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the pandemic’s economic fallout. We continue to highlight federal prosecutors’ work to stop scams that take advantage of these crucial programs:

NFL player Joshua Bellamy was arrested and charged in a federal court in Florida in connection with a conspiracy to file fraudulent loan applications for more than $24 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. According to the Justice Department, Bellamy obtained a $1.25 million PPP loan for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, and spent the proceeds on luxury items from Dior, Gucci, and various jewelers as well as at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. According to the federal criminal complaint, he also withdrew over $300,000 in cash. Bellamy is accused of participating in a broader scheme involving 10 other defendants and at least 90 fraudulent applications worth a combined $24 million. Most of the loans were approved and paid out.

Two New York brothers were similarly arrested and charged with conspiring to submit bogus PPP loan applications worth nearly $7 million. The Department of Justice’s press release says the brothers lied about business operations and payroll expenses and submitted fake documents in support of the applications, including phony tax filings that were not located in IRS records. Prosecutors say the brothers used the money for personal expenses like home improvements, a vehicle, and securities purchases.

And prosecutors in South Carolina charged seven individuals in connection with a $2.1 million money laundering scheme involving PPP loan funds. Christopher Agard allegedly disbursed funds from a loan he fraudulently obtained for his business, Wild Stylz, and Agard and other members of the conspiracy laundered the funds, including through a casino. The scheme involved a series of withdrawals, transfers, and transactions designed to conceal the nature of the fraudulently obtained funds.

We applaud the government’s efforts to stop COVID-related frauds that waste taxpayer dollars and impede an effective response to the pandemic. Whistleblowers play a vital role in allowing the government to identify these schemes as they evolve by exposing wrongdoing under the various whistleblower laws. If you have information about frauds associated with COVID-19 or otherwise, contact us.

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Tagged in: COVID-19, Government Programs Fraud,