Acting U.S. Attorney, IRS address COVID fraud through investigation, awareness
Taxpayers encouraged to report suspected fraud
DAYTON (STL.News) The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) Cincinnati Field Office mark the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act by urging taxpayers to continue reporting instances of suspected fraud and by pledging their continued commitment to investigating COVID-19 financial crimes.
Over the last year, U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-CI has been combatting COVID-19 fraud related to the Economic Impact Payments, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Employee Retention Credit. IRS CI has investigated more than 350 tax and money laundering cases nationwide totaling $440 million. These investigations covered a broad range of criminal activity, including fraudulently obtained loans, credits and payments meant for American workers, families, and small businesses.
On March 16, 2021, Nadine Consuelo Jackson, 32 of Dayton, Ohio, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for committing wire fraud and making a false statement to a bank related to two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and one Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Jackson fraudulently sought forgivable PPP loans in the amount of $1.3 million and $1.2 million from financial institutions by claiming to have more than 70 employees earning wages at a Dayton-based private investigation and security services business, Extract LLC. In actuality, there were few or no other employees working at Extract LLC.
Other fraud charges are pending in Columbus and in Cincinnati.
“At the same time we’re all fighting the spread of the virus, we unfortunately also have to fight the spread of fraudsters who hinder our economic recovery,” Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel said, noting that other potential crimes are under investigation in the 48-county Southern District of Ohio. “The CARES Act is supposed to help small businesses keep afloat, but some will try to scam the system. Anyone who suspects that fraud may be going on should report it, either through the IRS website, another appropriate law enforcement agency, or even to your local police. The key is to report it.”
“The CARES Act was designed to provide financial assistance to Americans struggling as a result of the pandemic,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Unfortunately, some individuals saw several of the programs enacted as an opportunity to steal and commit fraud. IRS CI will continue to partner with the United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners to investigate CARES Act fraud and bring those committing the fraud to justice.”
While abuses of the various CARES Act assistance programs have been limited in the overall administration of the law, some unscrupulous businesses and individuals have sought to enrich themselves through fraudulent activity. IRS-CI encourages the public to share information regarding known or suspected fraud attempts against any of the programs offered through the Cares Act.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 29, 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 Paycheck Protection Program. 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 other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two 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 period 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.