North Carolina man pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering for COVID-19 relief loan scheme
Published 8:33 am Sunday, December 4, 2022
A North Carolina man pleaded guilty November 8, 2022 to conspiracy to commit money laundering with respect to the fraudulent proceeds of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) COVID-19 loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. Dexter Duncan, 24, faces up to 20 years in prison in addition to restitution and a potential fine when he is sentenced next year.
“This defendant used stolen identities to pilfer money our nation set aside to help small businesses crippled by the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley. “He squirreled the funds into bank accounts under his control for his personal benefit and or under the control of his co-conspirators. My office will continue to partner with law enforcement at every level to hold COVID fraudsters accountable for their misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
“As part of his scheme to defraud, Duncan used stolen personal identities to apply for EIDL benefits. Each loan application submitted by Duncan contained false statements, misrepresentations and omissions related to, among other things, income, employment, and claimed business entities,” stated the release. “Duncan signed various financial documents, including loan and security agreements, using stolen identities that Duncan obtained from a co-conspirator. Duncan deposited the loan funds into his personal bank account and other bank accounts within his control. In total, Duncan received $180,900 in fraudulent loan proceeds.”
Easley made the announcement after United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones Jr. accepted the plea. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa K. Labresh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aakash Singh are prosecuting the case.
The Eastern District of North Carolina’s COVID Task Force is a part of an effort to coordinate COVID-related fraud investigations and prosecutions in Eastern North Carolina. “On May 17, 2021, the United States Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud,” stated the release. “The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.”