South Carolina man convicted of COVID-19 Relief fraud in first Atlanta PPP trial
ATLANTA – A federal jury in Atlanta convicted a South Carolina man of fraudulently obtaining a $300,000 forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“During the depths of the pandemic, Travis Crosby decided to steal federal relief funds meant to help struggling businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Crosby has now been convicted of fraud in Atlanta’s first PPP fraud trial and will soon be sentenced for his theft.”
“Crosby’s personal greed affects every tax paying citizen in this country and took away from government funds intended to provide relief to small business and employees who desperately needed it during the pandemic,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This conviction serves as a message that the FBI and our federal partners remain vigilant to make sure funds provided by programs like PPP are used as intended.”
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration will aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act and its Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to assist legitimate business owners during the pandemic,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We appreciate the efforts of our law enforcement partners and the US Attorney’s Office to ensure this criminal activity is held to account.”
“Conspiring to defraud SBA robs the nation of vital resources intended to support the nation’s small businesses,” said SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “OIG remains committed to rooting out bad actors and protecting the integrity of SBA programs every day. I am continually grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its leadership and dedication to shining a light on darkness wherever it may be.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: Travis Crosby conspired to submit a PPP loan application on behalf of Crosby’s company, Faithful Transport Services LLC (Faithful Transport). The loan application falsely inflated the number of employees and average monthly payroll for Faithful Transport, inducing a larger PPP loan than Crosby could legitimately obtain. Crosby and a co-conspirator also caused the submission of a forged tax document to support the false statements in the loan application. Crosby then engaged in a series of sham transactions with various individuals to make it appear that he was paying them payroll for work at Faithful Transport when, in reality, these individuals returned the vast majority of the funds to Crosby.
Crosby is the 11th defendant to be convicted as part of the Justice Department’s prosecution of a $3 million, Atlanta-based PPP fraud ring. Previously, 10 other members of the scheme were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the DOJ Fraud Section. All other defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial. To date, authorities have recovered approximately $1.2 million of the stolen money.
Travis Crosby, 32, of Wellford, South Carolina, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank, and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2023.
Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The FBI Atlanta Field Office; the SBA-OIG; and the TIGTA investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Huber for the Northern District of Georgia, Trial Attorney Matthew Reilly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane D. Schulman for the Northern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Michael P. McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section provided significant assistance.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.