CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Steven Andiloro, 51, of Mooresville, N.C., is facing federal charges in connection with an alleged investment fraud scheme and for fraudulently obtaining more than $2.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Jason Byrnes, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina, and Hannibal “Mike” Ware, Inspector General of the Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to allegations in the indictment, from 2018 to 2021, Andiloro operated an investment fraud scheme in which he induced victims to invest their money in businesses that were both real and fictitious. To induce victim investors to invest their money, Andiloro allegedly made false and fraudulent representations about where and how the victims’ money would be invested. For example, the indictment alleges that Andiloro promised some of his victim investors their money would be invested in a non-existent marijuana dispensary business in exchange for a ten percent ownership stake. Instead of investing his victims’ money as promised, Andiloro used the funds to pay for personal expenses and to make Ponzi-style payments to other investors.
The indictment alleges that from April 2020 to March 2021, Andiloro fraudulently obtained funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by submitting fraudulent applications for COVID-19 relief loans intended for businesses that suffered economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent applications Andiloro submitted to obtain the PPP funds contained false financial information about his businesses, including fake employment data and inflated revenues, costs, and payroll expenses. As a result of the scheme, the indictment alleges that Andiloro received more than $2.6 million in fraudulently obtained relief funds, which he used to fund his personal lifestyle and to make payments in furtherance of the investment fraud scheme.
The indictment charges Andiloro with securities fraud and wire fraud, which carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine for each offense, and money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the SBA-OIG for the investigation which led to the charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 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 www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.