FBI STING Operation – Multiple Suspects Named
(NewsReady.com) – Nearly a dozen people have been arrested over a serious COVID-19 funding fraud. The scam, centered in Omaha, NE, netted $2.5 million in federal cash. Now, the FBI has swooped on the perpetrators.
On May 25, the FBI announced that it arrested 11 people as part of an investigation into CARES Act fraud. Nine of the suspects were arrested in Omaha, where the group applied for almost $8 million in payroll protection and economic injury disaster loans. Around $2.5 million of that was actually paid out, and investigators believe they won’t get much of it back. So far, just $96,000 in cash has been seized.
Today agents from #FBI Omaha, with the assistance of @OmahaPolice , arrested 11 people charged in a multi-million-dollar fraud case involving Payroll Protection Program funds and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. If you suspect fraud involving COVID-19 call 1-800-CALL-FBI. pic.twitter.com/4a9OIiuYM1
— FBI Omaha (@FBIOmaha) May 25, 2022
Suspected ringleader Ramel Thompson, 58, is believed to have told the other suspects what loans to apply for and then guided them through the application process. They requested loans on behalf of 59 businesses, some of which were real; others were completely fictitious. Where claims were submitted for real businesses, key numbers, including the number of employees and estimated revenue, were inflated. This could be what triggered the investigation. Thompson, who the FBI believes was expecting a share of the loans from at least five of the other defendants, was jailed for nine months in 2017 after being convicted of filing fraudulent state income tax returns.
Prosecutors say the case is “complex,” with over 4,400 documents already entered as evidence, but they’re determined to crack down on this kind of fraud. US Attorney Jan Sharp said Wednesday, “When you’re ripping off a program that is designed to help struggling businesses — that’s especially galling.”
All the suspects pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing Thursday. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in jail.
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