In a recent case of fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds, a resident of North Las Vegas has pleaded guilty to submitting over $1.1 million in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications. Jaquari Davonte Woodward, aged 24, engaged in a scheme that involved inflating the income of his purported music business on loan applications and disseminating information about the scheme on social media. Woodward not only obtained fraudulent loans for himself but also helped others apply for loans in exchange for a fee. As a result of his actions, over $1.1 million in fraudulent loan proceeds were deposited into bank accounts controlled by Woodward and others involved. Woodward’s sentencing is scheduled for August 15, 2023, and he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, supervised release, fines, and restitution. The case was investigated by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI. The establishment of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force aims to prevent and prosecute pandemic-related fraud.
In recent news, a North Las Vegas resident by the name of Jaquari Davonte Woodward pleaded guilty to carrying out a fraudulent scheme to obtain over $1.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds. Woodward submitted numerous fraudulent loan applications and used social media to market his scheme, promising to help others apply for loans in exchange for a fee. As a result, he received a significant amount of fraudulent loan proceeds and now faces the possibility of severe penalties.
The Paycheck Protection Program was established by the United States government in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its purpose was to provide financial assistance to small businesses struggling to stay afloat during this challenging time. The program offered loans that could be forgiven if certain conditions were met, such as using the funds primarily for payroll expenses.
Details of the Fraudulent Scheme
Woodward began his fraudulent scheme in March 2021, when he submitted a loan application on behalf of his purported music business. He provided false information about the income of his business and submitted an IRS tax form containing inaccurate details. Furthermore, he actively promoted his scheme on social media, boasting about the money he received and offering to assist others in applying for loans for a fee.
Loan Application and False Information
Woodward’s initial loan application claimed that he was the sole proprietor of a music business. However, the income he reported was significantly inflated, and the tax form he provided contained falsified information. These actions were intended to deceive the Small Business Administration and the lending institution responsible for approving the loans.
Mass-Marketing the Scheme on Social Media
To attract more participants to his fraudulent scheme, Woodward utilized social media platforms to spread the word. He publicly shared the amount of money he received from the fraudulent loans and offered to help others navigate the loan application process. In return, he requested a fee of $10,000 from any approved loan applications.
Number of Fraudulent Applications Submitted
Woodward’s scheme involved submitting fraudulent loan applications not only on his behalf but also on behalf of others. It is estimated that he submitted at least 56 fraudulent applications for PPP loans. This exploitation of the program’s resources not only undermined its purpose but also exposed numerous individuals to potential legal consequences.
Amount of Fraudulent Loan Proceeds
As a result of his fraudulent activities, Woodward was successful in obtaining approximately $1,166,582 in fraudulent loan proceeds. These funds were deposited into bank accounts controlled by Woodward and other individuals involved in the scheme. Woodward himself received around $41,166 in fraudulent PPP loans, in addition to a substantial share of the over $1 million obtained on behalf of others, totaling at least $100,000.
Guilty Plea and Sentencing
Jaquari Davonte Woodward pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges before United States District Judge Gloria M. Navarro. His sentencing is scheduled for August 15, 2023. As part of his guilty plea, Woodward acknowledged his involvement in the fraudulent scheme and accepted responsibility for his actions.
Woodward now faces the maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison, in addition to a term of supervised release, a fine, and restitution. These potential penalties emphasize the gravity of the charges brought against Woodward and serve as a deterrent to others considering engaging in similar fraudulent activities.
The case of Jaquari Davonte Woodward highlights the serious consequences individuals face when attempting to defraud government assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program. The investigation and subsequent guilty plea demonstrate the commitment of law enforcement agencies to detect and prosecute those who exploit such programs. It is crucial for individuals and businesses to act responsibly and ethically when accessing government resources to ensure that funds are rightfully allocated to those in need. The Department of Justice remains vigilant in its efforts to combat fraud and protect the integrity of relief programs designed to support businesses during these challenging times.