IRS Employees Steal Thousands In Fraudulent COVID Relief Funds On Luxury Goods and Trips

A group of five former and current employees for the IRS have been slammed with charges amounting to scheming to defraud multiple hundred of thousands of dollars in funds earmarked for COVID relief.

As part of a Tuesday press release, the Department of Justice stated that a group of five people had been charged with separate counts of wire fraud in the wake of defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which issued various levels of economic relief to the owners of small businesses and those individuals affected by the COVID pandemic. The various fraudulent loans taken out ranged from just $11,000 to well over $170,000.

“These individuals – acting out of pure greed – abused their positions by taking government funds meant for citizens and businesses who desperately needed it,” explained Kevin G. Ritz, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, via a release. “I thank our law enforcement partners for rooting out this fraud. Our office will not hesitate to pursue and charge individuals who steal from our nation’s taxpayers.”

The first of the suspects was employed with the IRS as a Program Evaluation and Risk Analyst in the Human Capital Office. As reported by the criminal indictment, the suspect put in the paperwork for a total of four fraudulent EIDL applications, attempting to get more than $500,000 in funds; of which he managed to get a total of $171,400 in funds. The suspect allegedly used the money to purchase a Mercedes-Benz and tossed the rest into a personal investment account. He was slammed with a pair of wire fraud charges and additional two counts of money laundering.

The second person worked for the IRS as a contact representative in the Wage and Investment Service Centers Department. As stated by the indictment, she allegedly attempted to get at least $32,500 in loans from multiple PPP and EIDL applications; she received $11,500 in funds. She ended up spending the money on massages, luxury clothing, and manicures. She also was able to get well over $16,050 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits from the Tennessee Department of Labor. She was slammed with three counts of wire fraud.

The third person worked in the role of Management and Program Assistant in Information Technology. As reported by the DOJ, she allegedly put in EIDL applications for a business associated with fashion, and attempted to get more than $300,000 in loans, but obtained well over $28,900. She allegedly used the funds from the loans on various luxury Gucci apparel and a trip out to Las Vegas. She officially pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud.

The fourth of the group worked as a Contact Representative in the Wage and Investment Service Centers Department. He allegedly attempted to apply for a total of four EIDL and PPP loans, attempting to get well over $113,000; and he was able to get $66,666 in total funds. Allegedly, he utilized the funds to get a Gucci bag and other personal items. He also pled guilty to a count of wire fraud.

The last suspect used to work as a Lead Management and Program Assistant in the Human Capital Office. She allegedly attempted to get a total of four PPP and EIDL loans, getting well over $133,000 in loans while ending up with more than $123,000. She allegedly utilized the funds on various expensive trips and jewelry. She also pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud.

Each of the counts of wire fraud can result in a penalty of 20 years in prison. The first suspect could also see an additional 10 years in prison for each charge of money laundering charge.


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