The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, negatively affecting businesses, government revenues and individuals. As a result, some governments across the globe have implemented programs to reduce the impact of the virus on individuals and businesses.
In the U.S., the government implemented the COVID-19 relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and dispensed several amounts to citizens. However, while the virus and its new variant like the Omicron are causing trouble in the U.S., some are using it as an opportunity to scam the government.
A Florida man, Valesky Barosy, has been accused by federal prosecutors of using COVID-19 relief money to buy millions of dollars in luxury items such as a Lamborghini and Rolex watches. According to the allegations in the indictment, he submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices, seeking more than $4.2 million in PPP loans.
In each loan application, Barosy falsified each applicant’s prior-year expenses, net profit, and payroll and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms, says the indictment.
The indictment further noted that Barosy and his accomplices received approximately $2.1 million in PPP loans from the fraudulent scheme and used the proceeds to purchase a Lamborghini Huracán EVO, Rolex and Hublot watches, and designer clothing from Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel.
“Collectively, Hines falsely claimed his companies paid millions of dollars in payroll in the first quarter of 2020,” Bryan Masmela, a U.S. Postal inspector, said in an affidavit, according to the Washington Post. “State and bank records, however, show little to no payroll expense during this period.”
He has been charged with five counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft and could spend up to 132 years in prison if found guilty. He made his first appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on December 29.
Since the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program, it has been rocked by a number of fraudulent claims with business owners inflating employee numbers and claiming higher costs, the Post reports.
Barosy’s arrest is not the first under the program. The Post reports that federal prosecutors have filed numerous charges, including against reality star Maurice “Mo” Fayne, who allegedly spent his funds on a Rolls-Royce and $85,000 in jewelry.