DOJ Alleges Diamond Blue Smith Fraudulently Obtained COVID-Relief Funds and Used Them to Purchase Ferrari
According to an unsealed complaint, Florida recording artist Diamond Blue Smith and others were arrested on federal charges for their alleged involvement in a fraudulent scheme to obtain forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Unfortunately, the program has been plagued by assertions of misuse. At Mase Mebane, we understand how crucial this relief is and want to help stop the fraudulent use of these loans. Contact our office at (844) 627-3529 if you have knowledge about PPP fraud and need whistleblower protection.
What If I Suspect PPP Loan Fraud?
The PPP loan program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was designed to provide relief for small businesses devastated by the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. The loans came with conditions, including spending at least 75% of the amount on payroll. Almost immediately, there were allegations of abuse, including using funds to make luxury purchases, applying for multiple loans, and falsifying documents.
If you suspect COVID-relief related fraud or have knowledge about ill-gotten gains, you should contact an attorney. At Mase Mebane,we are committed to helping individuals come forward about PPP fraud and help ensure they are protected under state and federal whistleblower statutes.
Federal Charges for PPP Fraud
As noted in the Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, Smith is facing serious charges after allegedly obtaining multiple PPP loans using falsified documents. Investigators believe the proceeds were used to purchase a Ferrari and other luxury purchases.
Smith, best known as a rapper with the group Pretty Ricky, is facing multiple charges, including:
- Wire fraud
- Bank fraud
- Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud
Smith was not the only perpetrator. The owner of a Pennsylvania towing company and 11 other defendants had similar charges filed against them in connection with an ongoing scheme to defraud the federal government.
Protections for Stimulus Fraud Whistleblowers
The coronavirus-relief stimulus packages passed by Congress were designed to help those hit hardest by the health crisis and economic downturn. Unscrupulous individuals have sought to siphon millions from the programs. State and federal authorities rely on people with intimate knowledge of these schemes to come forward.
Depending on the situation, a whistleblower who provides information leading to a successful claim for COVID-relief related fraud may be entitled to a portion of the government’s recovery. If you believe that your employer or another person has obtained a PPP loan through falsified documents or misused proceeds for personal use, contact our office to speak with an attorney.
Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation
Funds for PPP loans were quickly exhausted, and not much was left for those who needed help. The fraudulent use of PPP funds and other coronavirus stimulus fraud strips small businesses of a much needed financial lifeline during these difficult times. If you have any knowledge regarding this kind of unlawful behavior, we may be able to help. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation and should never be in fear for bringing crucial information forward.
Contact Mase Mebane at (844) 627-3529 to speak with an experienced attorney. We can help you bring a whistleblower complaint or file a qui tam lawsuit, which may entitle you to compensation. All consultations are free with no obligation to retain our services.