South Carolina man convicted of COVID-19 relief fraud in first PPP trial in Atlanta | USAO-NDGA

ATLANTA – A federal jury in Atlanta has found a South Carolina man guilty of fraudulently disbursing a $300,000 loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“In the depths of the pandemic, Travis Crosby decided to steal federal aid funds that were intended to help ailing companies,” said US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Crosby has now been convicted of fraud in Atlanta’s first PPP fraud trial and will soon be convicted of his theft.”

“Crosby’s personal greed affects every taxpayer in this country and has taken away federal funds meant to help small businesses and employees who desperately needed them during the pandemic,” said Keri Farley, the FBI’s Atlanta special agent in charge. “This belief is a message that the FBI and our federal partners remain vigilant to ensure that funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended.”

“The Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration will aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act and its Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to support legitimate business owners during the pandemic,” J. Russell George said , the Ministry of Finance Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We appreciate the efforts of our law enforcement partners and the US Attorney’s Office to ensure accountability for this criminal activity.”

“The conspiracy to defraud SBA is robbing the nation of vital resources dedicated to supporting the nation’s small businesses,” said Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, special agent in charge of SBA OIG’s eastern region. “OIG remains committed to rooting out bad actors and protecting the integrity of SBA programs every day. I am always grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their leadership and dedication to bringing light into the darkness, wherever it may be.”

According to US Attorney Buchanan, the indictment and other information presented in court: Travis Crosby conspired to file a PPP loan application on behalf of Crosby’s company Faithful Transport Services LLC (Faithful Transport). The loan application incorrectly increased Faithful Transport’s headcount and average monthly payroll, resulting in a larger PPP loan than Crosby could legitimately obtain. Crosby and a co-conspirator also arranged for a forged tax document to be produced to support the misstatements in the loan application. Crosby then conducted a series of sham transactions with various individuals to make it appear that he was paying them their paychecks for working at Faithful Transport, when in reality these individuals returned the vast majority of the funds to Crosby.

Crosby is the 11th defendant convicted under the Justice Department’s indictment of a $3 million Atlanta-based PPP fraud ring. Previously, 10 other members of the program were indicted by the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and the DOJ Fraud Section. All other defendants pleaded guilty before trial. To date, authorities have recovered about $1.2 million of the stolen money.

Travis Crosby, 32, of Wellford, South Carolina, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, false statement to a bank and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2023.

Since the enactment of the CARES Act, the Fraud Division has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and seized over $75 million in cash proceeds from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to pool the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to increase efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force increases efforts to identify and prosecute the most guilty domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering fraud prevention assistance programs by expanding and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, fraud detection resources and techniques Identifies stakeholders and their plans and shares and leverages information and lessons learned from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about suspected COVID-19-related fraud may report it by contacting the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline through the NCDF web complaint form at https://www.justice. gov/disaster-fraud calling /ncdf-disaster complaint form.

The Atlanta Field Office of the FBI; the SBA BA; and the TIGTA investigated the case.

Assistant US Attorney Christopher J. Huber for the Northern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Matthew Reilly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Division are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by Deputy US Special Attorney Diane D. Schulman for the Northern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Michael P. McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Division.

For more information, please contact the US Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The web address of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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