INDIANAPOLIS – D’Ericka Lee, 29, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to a year of probation after pleading guilty to wire fraud and making and using a false document in an attempt to fraudulently obtain COVID‑19 related disaster loans.
According to court documents, Lee filed three separate loan applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) following the onset of the COVID‑19 pandemic. In Lee’s three loan applications, she fraudulently represented to the Small Business Administration that she ran a retail clothing and apparel business, a daycare, and a medical services business, which each employed various individuals and generated revenue income.
Lee’s applications were fraudulent because the purported businesses had no employees or revenue, and, in fact, the businesses did not even exist. The business addresses Lee listed in her loan applications were personal residences incapable of housing a business.
“This defendant repeatedly lied to take advantage of disaster loan programs that were a vital lifeline to those actually entitled to them,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Our U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners are dedicated to protecting these important federal programs from waste, fraud, and abuse. The conviction and sentence imposed today demonstrate that those who break the law to defraud the public will be held accountable.”
“This sentence illustrates the FBI’s commitment to combatting COVID-19 related fraud and ensuring those who fraudulently profited from the pandemic are held accountable,” said Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Indianapolis Field Office. “Stealing money meant to help those who were vulnerable and in need during those unprecedented times was reprehensible and will not be tolerated.”
The FBI investigated the case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson. As part of the sentence, Judge Barker ordered that Lee pay $10,000 in restitution to the Small Business Administration.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley A. Blackington who prosecuted this case.
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 at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form