FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA —Troy Benjamin Bittner, 54, of Myrtle Beach, has pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.
Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that from November 2020 to December 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bittner was employed as a general manager at the Carolina Pines RV Resort in Conway, South Carolina. During that time, when it was not uncommon for guests to cancel reservations, he fraudulently generated $828,516.00 in customer refunds that were neither authorized nor requested by guests for completed reservations. After generating the fraudulent refunds, Bittner then wired the refunds to his personal financial accounts. In addition, on February 27, 2022, Bittner electronically filed with the IRS a 2021 Form 1040 in which he substantially understated his total income for calendar year 2021, resulting in a tax loss of $270,686.00.
Bittner faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain or gross loss of the offense, restitution, and 3 years of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment. United States District Judge Joseph Dawson, III accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Bittner after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
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, among other methods, 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 at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service (USSS), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Hummel is prosecuting the case.
Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, email@example.com, (803) 929-3000