Alleged Business Scammers Indicted After Nationwide Scheme to Defraud Investors, Including Elderly, of More than $30M
Salt Lake City, Utah – A Utah man was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay more than $450,000 in restitution after he admitted to making false statements in a COVID-era Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, and money laundering.
According to court documents, in May 2020, in the District of Utah and elsewhere, Chris E. McCormick, 64, of Cottonwood Heights, illegally made false representations to Mountain America Credit Union to obtain approximately $266,000 in PPP funds for his small business, Peak Debt Consumption LLC. Mountain America Credit Union is a bank where deposits were then insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in connection with PPP loan applications. McCormick falsely stated and caused to be falsely stated that Peak Debt Consumption LLC had 12 employees and had a monthly payroll of $100,000. In McCormick’s plea agreement, he further admitted that he committed money laundering by sending an online wire transfer for $225,000 of fraudulently obtained PPP loan money from his small business Mountain America Credit Union account to his personal TD Ameritrade account. McCormick was ordered by the court to pay $465,995 in restitution and will have 36 months of supervised release following his 24 months prison sentence.
“Mr. McCormick’s actions were illegal and unfair to other honest and hard-working small businesses trying to make ends meet during a challenging time,” said U.S. Attorney, Trina A. Higgins, of the District of Utah. “PPP fraud imposes serious penalties, and we hope cases like these serve as a deterrent to other potential scammers seeking to defraud the U.S. Government.”
“Mr. McCormick’s crimes impacted all taxpaying citizens and small business owners that legitimately needed pandemic-related assistance,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the Salt Lake City FBI. “When opportunistic fraudsters seek to profit from federal programs in search of an illegitimate payday, the FBI and our partners stand ready to hold them accountable.”
“Mr. McCormick intentionally took hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds intended to provide relief for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Albert Childress. “Our agency is committed to bringing justice to those who have exploited the pandemic for personal gain and have stolen from America’s taxpayers.”
The case was investigated jointly by the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer E. Gully and Jacob J. Strain of the District of Utah prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases and has seized over $78 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.