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Articles Tagged with fraud

There are 47 defendants in a federal lawsuit filed against the perpetrators of a $250 million scheme to defraud a pandemic-related relief program that earmarked funds for starving children. The Department of Justice announced that it was the largest pandemic relief fraud to date. The defendants have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery. Federal prosecutors will push hard for maximum sentences as the federal government tends to take it personally when you deprive needy children of necessary food. 

The fraud targeted the Federal Child Nutrition Program. The program sends federal funds to state governments to ensure that children in need are provided with daily meals. Each state has its own agency that oversees these federal funds. Reimbursements are conducted on a per-meal basis, and providers are allowed to keep 15% of the disbursed funds for administrative costs. Individual sponsors apply for applications through their state government and then coordinate meal plans with children in need. During the COVID pandemic, the federal government waived some of the requirements allowing for-profit businesses to partake in the program. It also allowed off-site food distribution for children. 

The scheme called for the opening of fake food distribution sites to secure federal money from state governments. The fraudsters are accused of opening fake food distribution sites and then lying about how many meals they serve. The defendants created shell companies to take the funds, and then more shell companies to launder the proceeds. They submitted falsified reports to the federal government and fake attendance rosters of children who were served meals. They then used the proceeds to buy luxury items. The defendants used a website that randomly generates fake names and an Excel formula to randomly generate ages between 7 and 17. 

She was the “first African-American woman” to hold the title of Director of Special Investigations for the State of Illinois. She was the only woman to ever hold the position. She was the only African-American to ever hold the position. She was the only person ever to have held the position, largely because the position did not exist. It was invented by the only person ever to have held it. But the spectacle of her having received awards and commendation for the position was videotaped for all to see. The defendant had hired the participants to act in these ceremonies including individuals who posed as judges. According to the participants, they were never paid. Therein lies the fraud. The fraudster told the actors that judges were not available for her swearing-in ceremony which is why she required paid actors. The theft of services adds up to over $21,000.

In addition, the defendant coaxed others into advancing her money under false pretenses; money she had no intention of ever paying back. She was also charged with writing fake checks to landlords, letting the checks bounce, and then forcing the landlords to evict her when she refused to pay. She was able to sustain housing like this for an extended period of time.

She has since pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by deception and one count of impersonating a state employee. The prosecution has agreed to recommend a five-year sentence, but the defendant’s actual sentence will be up to the court.

Closing arguments are currently underway in a trial against a USC water polo coach. The coach is accused of faking test scores and inventing athletic achievements including using his role as a water polo coach to help rich applicants secure spots at the exclusive college. 

According to prosecutors, wealthy parents paid over $200,000 so that the coach could establish their children as water polo recruits to gain acceptance. Attorneys for the defendant claim that their client never took a bribe. His attorneys claim that some of the money was deposited into the water polo team’s coffers with the rest of it being scholarship money awarded by a non-profit for the coach’s children. However, the non-profit organizer is a close crony of the coach and is considered the mastermind behind the bribery scheme which targeted several schools.

60 people have been charged in the scheme to help rich people get their low-performing children into exclusive schools. The water polo coach is the only one to fight the charges at trial. The investigation took down Lori Laughlin of Full House fame and other notable celebrities. 

Larry Ray is going to prison, perhaps for life, after a New York jury convicted him on 15 counts all related to the exploitation and extortion of his daughter’s friends. Ray managed to convince his daughter to allow him to move into the dorms shortly after he was released from prison on a securities fraud conviction. 

Ray managed to convince one victim that she had poisoned him and owed him reparations. The woman paid between $10,000 and $50,000 per week to make amends, at one point even performing sex work to make payments. Another woman revealed that her life was turned upside down when she met Ray. She was on track to become a medical doctor when she became romantically involved with him. He would often ask her to have sex with other men while he videotaped it. 

The entire scheme appears to have hinged on Ray using a Svengali-like ability to manipulate those around him. Ray was able to convince several students that they had poisoned him after he agreed to let them stay at his apartment. To make amends, they did as Ray asked, including giving him a lot of money, performing yard work, and more.

Federal authorities have announced the arrest of two individuals who have been accused of embezzling vaccine cards from their place of employment for sale elsewhere. The first defendant is a registered nurse who stole vaccine cards from her employer at the VA Hospital. Another defendant is facing charges that he purchased counterfeit vaccine cards and attempted to sell them on Facebook. 

The nurse is facing charges of theft of government property and embezzlement related to a health care benefit program. The Facebook guy is facing charges for trafficking in counterfeit goods and fraud related to official government documents. The charges have been filed and prosecuted by the U.S. State Attorney’s office meaning that both defendants will face federal charges for their role in distributing fraudulent vaccine cards. 

The government does not take kindly to those defrauding the system. They contend such efforts place everyone at risk and undermine the efforts of health officials.

A Chicago woman is facing federal fraud charges after posing as the relative of young gun violence victims. In one case, she posed as the relative of a 7-year-old boy who was fatally shot in 2015. The 50-year-old woman posed as the boy’s aunt when she attempted to acquire the boy’s death certificate in 2019 and then filed a fraudulent tax return in the dead boy’s name. 

The same defendant was given an 11-year sentence on similar charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. The woman was on supervised release when she was arrested for this crime, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors described the woman as a career con-artist who used her considerable innate abilities to steal from others as opposed to doing something useful to society. The fraud was discovered by an employee at Cook County Vital Records after he noticed that the same woman put in a request for four death certificates on the same day. The woman claimed to be the sister of each of the deceased, but each deceased individual had a different name. A check of the records showed that the woman had placed requests for 37 death certificates all in 2019 alone. Each of the individuals whose birth certificates she requested were recent homicide victims—mostly children. She was able to recover earned income and child tax credits on the deceased children, earning a passive income from her Southside home. The woman was also able to recover several COVID stimulus checks while those were still being issued. 

eBay has become a haven for sports card enthusiasts and other collectors acting as a veritable stock exchange for valuable collectibles. However, not everything that happens on eBay is legal. For example, if you place a bid on your own item or bid up items you have no intention of purchasing, you are committing a felony known as shill bidding. As another example, if you try to sell vaccination cards on eBay, you can be charged with 12 counts of stealing government property.

Chicago pharmacist Tangtang Zhao sold 125 vaccination cards to 11 buyers for about $10 per card. While not quite as lucrative as a Mantle rookie, Zhao pulled in roughly $1,000 from the fraud and will now face charges before a federal magistrate.

When discussing the charges, federal authorities were appalled at the low price Zhao got for the vaccination cards. According to a spokesperson for the FBI, “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”

The federal government considers fraud of public funds earmarked from natural disaster relief programs a particularly black-hearted crime. A Chicago tax preparer is facing charges that he helped his clients obtain millions in coronavirus relief aid under The CARES Act. While helping your clients secure loans is not in itself a federal crime, helping them secure loans under false pretenses is. Hadi Isbaih is charged with four counts of wire fraud. An indictment returned recently confirmed the charges. 

The government reinforced its commitment to prosecute those who steal from public coffers and deprive those who need the money of much-needed relief. 

Evaluating the Accusations

For as many government entitlement programs as there are, there are a number of ways to commit fraud. People commit fraud against the unemployment program, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, social security, and more. Aldermen commit fraud against government initiatives and then funnel the money to their own personal coffers. Now, a Chicago man is facing charges that he conspired with a post office employee to steal economic relief checks from the mail and cash them. 

Akeem Kosoko, 26, is facing one count of conspiracy to steal mail and government funds, three counts of embezzlement of government property, and three counts of receipt of stolen mail. The indictment says that Kosoko conspired with his brother, who was a postal worker, who is also facing a conspiracy charge. The defendants are facing federal charges

Theft of Government Funds

A Chicago-area businessman has been indicted on federal charges for making fraudulent claims to the government in order to bilk COVID relief money from the fund. Carlos Smith, 56, of Park Forest, Illinois is charged with fraudulently obtaining $420,000 in small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). Both programs were created under the CARES Act. Smith has been charged with two counts of wire fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, and one count of money laundering.

The Alleged Fraud

Federal investigators say that Smith applied for a $270,000 loan from the PPP for his company CLS Financial. In the loan application documents, Smith indicated that his company had 61 employees and an average monthly payroll of $108,000. But the company had no employees at all, let alone payroll. Smith also lied about having been convicted of a felony in the past. 

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