Celebrities take advantage of COVID-19 fraud
To borrow a line from the film Taken, the US government has a “particular set of skills.” This borrows billions of dollars and that spend billions of dollars. Unlike Liam Neeson’s character in TakenUncle Sam isn’t particularly good at either of these skills.
After state and local governments shut down businesses and forced residents to stay home during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government borrowed and spent like nobody’s business to relieve businesses and people who found themselves unemployed as a result of the closures. Ultimately, the federal government borrowed and spent at least $ 1.550 billion just for COVID-19 relief in its fiscal year 2020.
Most of this money was distributed to businesses in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and to individuals in the form of unemployment benefits. Because federal bureaucrats couldn’t bother to carefully manage this money, much of it was wasted on fraud. Two criminal cases involving celebrities that received around $ 1.2 million each bring this point home.
Fraud in the PPP
The first case involves the PPP, where New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy was indicted in a number of fraud-related crimes by the US Department of Justice for receiving $ 1.2 million in PPP loans.
Joshua J. Bellamy, 31, of St. Petersburg, Fla., An NFL player, has been indicted in a federal criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida for wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Bellamy was arrested this morning and will appear today before U.S. magistrate Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida.
The complaint alleges that Bellamy conspired with others to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent P3 loans. At the start of the scheme, Phillip J. Augustin allegedly obtained a fraudulent PPP loan for his talent management company using forged documents. After submitting this request, Augustine then began working with other co-conspirators, including Bellamy, on a plan to submit numerous fraudulent PPP loan requests for Confederate loan seekers, in order to receive bribes. -vin to get the forgivable loans for them.
Bellamy is said to have obtained a PPP loan of $ 1,246,565 for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC. Bellamy reportedly bought more than $ 104,000 in luxury goods using the proceeds of his PPP loan, including purchases from Dior, Gucci and jewelers. He also reportedly spent approximately $ 62,774 on P3 loan products at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and withdrew over $ 302,000. Bellamy is also said to have applied for PPP loans on behalf of his family and close associates.
In 2019, Bellamy signed a two-year $ 5 million contract with the New York Jets, with $ 930,000 guaranteed whether or not he played a game during the term of the contract.
The second story is more local in nature, since unemployment benefits are administered by state employment offices, but involve a federal crime. In California, the state government’s Department of Employment Development (EDD) is responsible for processing claims and distributing checks to self-employed and skilled workers who are eligible for unemployment assistance in the event federally funded pandemic.
Except that EDD turned out to be really bad at handling US taxpayer money and maybe even worse than Uncle Sam where this skill is involved!
This is why the story of rapper Fontrell Antonio Baines, also known as “Nuke Bizzle”, stands out. los angeles broadcaster CBSLA recount the tale:
A rapper who bragged in a YouTube music video about getting rich off an unemployment scam was arrested Friday for fraudulently claiming over $ 1.2 million in unemployment benefits, ministry officials said of Justice.
Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, of Memphis, Tennessee, is known online as Nuke Bizzle. Federal officials say he currently resides in the Hollywood Hills and is scheduled to appear for the first time Friday afternoon in US District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Baines was arrested on September 23 by Las Vegas police and was found to be in possession of eight EDD debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against Baines.
In the video, which apparently was released on September 11, prosecutors say Baines rapped about making “my bragger for EDD” and getting rich in “come on.[ing] to the bank with a stack of these ‘while holding several ESD envelopes. A second man in the video raps: “You have to sell cocaine, I just filed a complaint …”
Lessons learned from cheating PPP and ESD
Aside from the fact that Bellamy and Baines are accused of fraud by receiving approximately $ 1.2 million each in U.S. taxpayer-funded dollars, both stories demonstrate the negligence of the bureaucrats tasked with managing welfare programs that they administer.
American taxpayers whose income is taxed to pay off loans the government borrows to spend it deserves much better. Bureaucrats should be held personally responsible for recovering losses. If they cannot recover funds from fraudsters who exploited the system they run, they might be more tax-careful if they had to reimburse funds lost due to negligent fraud out of pocket. and their pension.
How does the character of Liam Neeson in Taken solve the problem?