Nigerian National Sentenced to 121 Months in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Launder Proceeds of Internet Fraud Schemes
WILMINGTON, Del. – David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Ana Soto, 41, of Wilmington and formerly of Newark, was sentenced yesterday to 31 months imprisonment on wire fraud and money laundering convictions. Chief U. S. District Court Judge Colm F. Connolly pronounced the sentence.
Within days of the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Soto began her scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and its authorized lenders. Between March 30, 2020, and January 24, 2021, Soto submitted approximately seventeen (17) fraudulent loan applications in order to obtain loans through the small business loan programs established by the CARES Act including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. These applications were made on behalf of five entities controlled by Soto or her close relations. Each of the loan applications falsely stated the amount of gross revenues, cost of goods sold, and number of employees. In some instances, the loan applications falsely claimed the businesses were in operation at the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. As a result of these false applications, Soto obtained approximately $246,000, and applied for, but was denied, an additional approximately $500,000 in CARES Act loans.
U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “Today the Court justly held Ana Soto accountable for her crimes. Defendant’s conduct, which took advantage of government programs designed to provide economic support for the American people at the outset of a global pandemic, is particularly deplorable. When the government stepped in to quickly provide relief and reassure its citizens with financial help, Defendant chose to exploit the system to her own advantage. We remain committed to prosecuting those who have done the same. Defendant’s sentence should be a stark reminder that we will bring to justice those who defrauded the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
"This is an example of someone who was attempting to take advantage of a program to help Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic," said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J Sobocinski of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “We would like to thank our partners at the IRS in helping us to ensure funds provided for Covid-19 programs make it to the people in Delaware who need it the most.”
Ana Soto deliberately and repeatedly carried out a scheme to defraud a program that was implemented to assist people during the pandemic,” said Yury Kruty, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing punishes her and serves as a warning to others that IRS-CI and our law enforcement partners stand ready to investigate those who attempt to fleece the government.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf. U.S. Attorney Weiss thanked the investigators for their diligence and dedication in pursuing this investigation.