Naples Felon arrested and charged with COVID relief fraud |  USAO-MDFL
DC Man pleads guilty to attempting to steal over  million in COVID-19 funds |  USAO-DC

WASHINGTONElias Eldabbagh, 30, of Washington, DC, pleaded guilty in federal court today to carrying out a scheme to steal more than $31 million under the CARES Act and launder the proceeds of his scheme. Eldabbagh managed to steal $2,385,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Disaster Loans (EIDL) loans.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, DC Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall- Brathwaite of the US Small Business Administration. , Office of the Inspector General.

“As many Americans grappled with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this defendant brazenly attempted to steal more than $31 million in emergency funds intended to help small businesses and employees survive. to COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney Graves said. “The United States Department of Justice will prosecute, to the fullest extent permitted by law, individuals who conspire to steal vital government programs.”

“Elias Eldabbagh stole funds intended to help businesses and their employees during a crisis to spend on a luxury car and get rich,” IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Waldon said. “In the two years since the CARES Act was passed, IRS-CI Special Agents have uprooted and continue to pursue those selfish criminals who thought they could get away with stealing from those who really Need help.”

“The OIG will continue to protect SBA programs from fraudsters determined to steal funds intended to support small businesses nationwide,” said SBA OIG Special Agent in Charge McCall-Brathwaite. “OIG remains committed to weeding out bad actors and protecting the integrity of SBA programs. I want to thank the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.

Eldabbagh pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to wire fraud and laundering the proceeds of the wire fraud scheme. Electronic fraud is punishable by a legal penalty of 20 years and financial penalties. Engaging in monetary transactions with funds of criminal origin is subject to a 10-year legal sentence and financial penalties. Eldabbagh faces a recommended sentence of 11 to 14 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Honorable Trevor N. McFadden has accepted the plea and sentence scheduled for August 25, 2022.

From July 2020 to May 2021, Eldabbagh used his company, Alias ​​Systems, LLC, to fraudulently apply for at least 25 PPP loans totaling over $30 million. He also submitted at least four bogus EIDL claims totaling $950,000. During his scheme, Eldabbagh used a stolen identity to conceal ownership of Alias ​​Systems, LLC, and used the same stolen identity to submit the vast majority of applications. In support of his fraudulent claims, Eldabbagh also used stolen identities, stolen tax returns, and stolen financial records from a Washington, DC consulting firm. Eldabbagh fraudulently forged the stolen documents as tax returns and payroll records for his company, Alias ​​Systems, LLC. Eldabbagh successfully stole $2,385,000 from the PPP and EIDL programs.

Eldabbagh transferred proceeds from his scheme to at least 13 separate bank and brokerage accounts and to purchase a Tesla Model 3. Eldabbagh then converted at least $288,000 of proceeds from fiat currency into multiple cryptocurrencies. Using the proceeds of the fraud, Eldabbagh made over 2,000 transactions involving at least 43 different cryptocurrencies.

Eldabbagh also used the money he stole to pay rent, hotels, dog boarding, attorney fees, carpools, electronics, and various personal expenses.

In May 2021, the IRS-CI executed seizure warrants on Eldabbagh’s bank accounts and investment accounts. Eldabbagh made several attempts to transfer seized funds before being thwarted by federal agents. As part of his plea deal, Eldabbagh agreed to confiscate the Tesla Model 3, the contents of 21 bank accounts, and he agreed to liquidate his interest in the cryptocurrency obtained with the proceeds and return the funds to the government. the United States.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) is a federal law enacted on or about March 2020 and designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19. . One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of billions in repayable loans to small businesses for maintaining jobs and certain other expenses, through a program called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). ).

An Economic Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) is a loan administered by the Small Business Administration designed to provide assistance to small businesses that experience significant economic harm as a result of a declared disaster. An EIDL helps businesses meet necessary financial obligations that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. It relieved the economic damage caused by the disaster and allowed businesses to maintain reasonable working capital during the disaster-affected period.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Graves, Special Agent in Charge Waldon, and Special Agent in Charge McCall-Brathwaite praised the work of those investigating the case from IRS-CI and the Office of the IRS. SBA Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie A. Goemaat of the Fraud, Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, supported by Paralegal Specialist Mariela Andrade.

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On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of fraud related to COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Disaster Fraud Center hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www.justice. gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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