The federal government has distributed hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency business loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included giving small amounts of property to unqualified people. Authorities allow it.
Take, for example, André Lorque, whom federal prosecutors say pretended Certified tax accountant And it falsely claimed that a handful of businesses were struggling during the pandemic. From Teslas to Lamborghinis, we ended up spending on exotic sports cars.
Lorquet is the latest in dozens of people in South Florida to be charged with defrauding the system during the pandemic, according to prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office in Miami.
Lorquet applied for federal bailout loans totaling $4.7 million through his company, Miami ENT LLC, between June 2020 and November 2021, and used falsified income, salary, and other information. The prosecutor alleges in the indictment that he filled out an IRS form that was issued to him. Lorquet received nearly the entire loan amount he requested ($4.4 million). All of these were approved by the lender and insured by the Small Business Administration under the Massive Pandemic Relief Program.
But instead of spending the money in a proper way on labor and other overhead, prosecutors said, Lorke bought a Tesla Playe, a Tesla Model S, a Lamborghini Urus, and a Porsche Panamera GTS.
The indictment accuses him of plotting to “unfairly enrich himself” and charges him with four counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft. I’m here. If convicted, he faces up to his 22 years in prison.
Rooke made his first appearance in federal court in Miami on Tuesday, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His case was listed on the court’s website, but his attorney was not.
In a news release, prosecutors said Lorquet “wrongfully” obtained a COVID-19 relief loan under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Relief Program and Closed Venue Operator Grant. . Under these programs, loans are forgiven if they are used by the business for legitimate purposes such as payroll or lease expenses.
But that was not the case with Rooke’s application, according to the Homeland Security Investigation Agency.
The COVID-19 Business Relief Program will US Department of Justice Designates South Florida and Two Other Regions of the Country Riddled with Scams Take the lead in cracking down on national issues.
After losing billions of dollars in pandemic relief funds to false claims, the U.S. government began deploying investigative teams in South Florida, California and Maryland in September to steal from public programs that also provide small business loans. I set my sights on a suspected criminal organization. as unemployment insurance.
The Federal Strike Force was selected in these states not only because they experienced significant relief fraud during the pandemic, but because they boast resources to help them deal with escalating problems across the country.
The number of prosecutions and losses over the past two years has been staggering.
To date, prosecutors have filed criminal charges against more than 1,500 defendants nationwide, resulting in more than $1.1 billion in losses to relief funds and more than $1.2 billion in seizures, according to Justice Department officials. Additionally, prosecutors have launched civil investigations into more than 1,800 individuals and entities who have applied for pandemic relief loans totaling more than $6 billion.
As the nation’s top fraud capital, according to federal prosecutors, South Florida has led the wave of financial crimes that followed the passage of the CARES Act.
The South Florida Attorney’s Office has prosecuted more than 80 COVID-19 relief cases, most involving the Paycheck Protection Program, making it the nation’s leader in such prosecutions. Prosecutors say these schemes account for a total of about $250 million in loan requests, with applicants such as Lorquet receiving ill-gotten funds.
In South Florida, criminal cases involve Businessman buys $318,000 Lamborghini using PPP moneya nurse who lied about his business to get $474,000 which was used for part of his Mercedes-Benz lease and child support, and North Miami suburban couple claiming to be farmers qualify for $1 million relief benefits.
Miami Herald Staff Writer David Ovalle contributed to this article.
This story was originally published November 9, 2022 at 10:14 am.