Three men have been charged by federal prosecutors in South Florida for allegedly participating in a fraud and money laundering scheme that stole an estimated $2 million from coronavirus (COVID-19) relief programs.
Jimpcy One of Broward County, FL, Gousman Lemy of Norfolk County, MA, and Frantz Guillaume of Suffolk County, MA, were charged with bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. One and Guillaume were additionally charged with aggravated identity theft and making false statements to a financial institution. It is unclear if any of the named defendants have acquired the services of an attorney.
According to the affidavit, the three defendants allegedly participated in two separate fraud schemes in 2019 and 2020. The first alleged scheme occurred in early 2019 when unknown co-conspirators of the defendants purportedly hacked and took control of a business email account. The co-conspirators purportedly used the email account to send fake emails to a separate business, which they tricked into wiring over $912,000 into an account the defendants allegedly controlled.
The three attempted to launder the money by transferring it into the bank accounts of various shell companies, the complaint alleges. They reportedly further obfuscated the origin of the money by transferring it out of those accounts and into accounts controlled by the unnamed co-conspirators.
The second alleged fraud scheme occurred in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. The defendants initiated a new fraud scheme using the shell companies from the first scheme, as well as newly created and reactivated shell companies, the affidavit says. The defendants are accused of submitting fraudulent loan applications to two federal COVID-19 relief programs: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).
PPP and EIDL loans for small American businesses are authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted by Congress on March 29, 2020. The CARES Act was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are struggling with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Congress has authorized over $500 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses to use for job retention and other business-related expenses.
The three defendants allegedly submitted loan applications using the names of the shell companies and were able to obtain almost $2 million in PPP and EIDL funds, sources indicate. It is unclear if they used the funding for the business-related expenses stipulated in the CARES Act.
South Florida business owners who are suspected of committing fraud related to federal COVID-19 relief programs should immediately consult an experienced fraud defense attorney. An attorney can review the evidence and conduct an independent investigation to determine the best course of action to minimize potential penalties or have the charges dropped altogether.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney
Are you accused of committing fraud involving federal COVID-19 relief programs in South Florida? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced fraud defense attorneys.