When the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly two years ago, scammers immediately began siphoning off billions of federal relief dollars approved by Congress.
COMPANIES RETURNED $30B IN VIRUS RELIEF LOANS THROUGH PPP
Authorities say these fraudsters include Allison Baver, a former Olympic speed skater who has been charged with eight counts of making a false statement to a bank and one count of money laundering, according to the United States Attorney General’s Office. United States in Utah.
The 41-year-old won a bronze medal in the women’s 3,000m relay at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, nearly a year after breaking her ankle and leg in multiple places while competing in Bulgaria .
Following his Olympic victory, Baver launched Allison Baver Entertainment, a company that describes itself as the “engine behind the stories that move the needle. We are driven by film, television and lifestyle goals.”
Now authorities say Baver lied on loan applications to fraudulently receive $10 million from the Paycheck Protection Program — some of which she invested in a film about serial killer Ted Bundy, according to the prosecutors.
Baver allegedly claimed in some PPP funding applications that his company had an average monthly payroll of $4 million and 105 employees, according to the indictment. In others, she said she had 430 workers. But the indictment alleges that Baver actually had no employees or monthly payrolls.
In May 2020, one of the banks, Meridian, approved a $10 million loan for Allison Baver Entertainment; two months later, according to the indictment, Baver transferred $150,000 to another production company behind the movie ‘No Man of God,’ which stars Elijah Wood as serial killer Ted Bundy. .
Federal prosecutors want Baver to lose about $9.7 million of the cash, according to local station KTSU. She also faces up to 40 years if convicted on all counts.
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The Secret Service estimated last month that about $100 billion had been stolen from COVID-19 relief funds, a figure based on Secret Service cases as well as data from the Department of Labor and Small Business. Administration. It does not include cases of COVID-19 fraud prosecuted by the Department of Justice. In total, at least 3% of the total $3.4 trillion in federal pandemic aid was stolen by scammers, showing that “the sheer size of the prize pool attracts criminals,” the services said. secrets.
“All states have been hit, some harder than others,” said Roy Dotson, deputy special agent in charge. “The Secret Service is kicking off, trying to recover whatever we can, including stolen funds from federal and state programs.”