DALLAS (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Dallas Field Office:

IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) released investigational statistics today [Friday] about COVID-related fraud investigations conducted by the agency over the past two years.

The agency investigated 660 tax and money laundering cases related to COVID fraud, with alleged fraud in these cases totaling $1.8 billion. These cases included a broad range of criminal activity, including fraudulently obtained loans, credits and payments meant for American workers, families, and small businesses.

“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law nearly two years ago as a safety net for Americans in light of an unprecedented health crisis. Unfortunately, even during times of crisis, criminals pop their heads out to look for ways to take advantage of those in their most vulnerable state. Thanks to the investigative work of IRS-CI special agents and our law enforcement partners, we’ve ensured criminals who try to defraud CARES Act programs face consequences for their actions,” said IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee. 

Those consequences include a 100% conviction rate for prosecuted cases with prison sentences averaging 42 months.

Dallas case examples include:

Mountain Home Man Sentenced to 63 Months for Obtaining Coronavirus Relief Funds by Fraud

FORT SMITH – James Read, of Mountain Home, was sentenced on September 20, 2021, to 63 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for charges stemming from his abuse of various COVID-19 related economic relief programs.  According to court documents, Read falsified documents to apply for Small Business Administration loans intended for businesses struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read also filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, on behalf of himself and others, in multiple states despite being ineligible for the funds.  The Court further ordered Read to pay $277,827.00 in restitution for the fraudulently obtained funds.

Edmond Woman Pleads Guilty to CARES Act Main Street Lending Program Fraud

OKLAHOMA CITY – Jill Nicole Ford, of Edmond, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering related to a loan obtained through the Main Street Lending Program, a lending facility established by the Federal Reserve Board and supported with funding authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act provided more than $2 trillion in relief for individuals and businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  The CARES Act also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to create the Main Street Lending Program to promote lending to small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic.

Texas Man Sentenced for $24 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme

DALLAS – Dinesh Sah, of Coppell, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for wire-fraud and money-laundering offenses in connection with his fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $24.8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Sah submitted 15 fraudulent applications, filed under the names of various purported businesses that he owned or controlled, to eight different lenders seeking approximately $24.8 million in PPP loans. Sah claimed that these businesses had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses when, in fact, no business had employees or paid wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the PPP applications. Sah further submitted fraudulent documentation in support of his applications, including fabricated federal tax filings and bank statements for the purported businesses, and falsely listed other persons as the authorized representatives of certain of these businesses without the authority to use their identifying information on the applications.

IRS-CI encourages the public to share information regarding known or suspected fraud attempts against any of the programs offered through the CARES Act. To report a suspected crime, taxpayers may visit IRS.gov.

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional funding, and in December 2020, another $284 billion.

The Paycheck Protection Program allows qualifying small businesses and certain other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two to five years and an interest rate of 1%. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set time and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.

(Press release from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Dallas Field Office)

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