Texas man charged with coronavirus loan fraud topping $5 million

Bradford Betz

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A Texas man is accused of filing fake applications seeking more than $5 million in coronavirus relief aid meant for small businesses, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Samuel Yates, 32, of Maud, Texas, allegedly sought millions in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Yates sought loans from two different banks by claiming to employ over 400 people earning wages – even though he had no employees working for him, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

The Department of Justice says Samuel Yates is charged with violations of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

In the first application, Yates claimed his “employees” required an average monthly payroll of $2 million. In the second application, Yates was able to obtain a loan of over $500,000 by claiming he employed more than 100 individuals.

For both applications, Yates provided a list of his supposed employees that he obtained from a publicly available random name generator online, the DOJ said. He allegedly provided fake tax records with each application.

“This defendant allegedly sought to steal millions of dollars in loans intended to aid legitimate small businesses grappling with the economic effects of COVID-19,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department and our law enforcement partners will use all the tools at our disposal to investigate and prosecute frauds against the Paycheck Protection Program.”

Yates is charged with violations of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the SBA. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

2 NEW ENGLAND MEN ARE FIRST CHARGED WITH CORONAVIRUS SMALL-BUSINESS AID FRAUD

Loans are guaranteed by the SBA for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Lawmakers passed the CARES Act in late March to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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The CARES Act authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. Last month, Congress authorized more than $300 billion in additional PPP funding.


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