Seattle man who used stolen identities to seek nearly $2 million in COVID-19 benefits pleads guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft
WASHINGTON – A federal jury convicted a Seattle doctor yesterday of fraudulently seeking over $3.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) COVID-19 relief funds.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Eric R. Shibley, 41, of Seattle, submitted several fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications to federally insured financial institutions, other Small Business Administration (SBA)-approved lenders, and the SBA, in the names of businesses with no actual operations or by otherwise misrepresenting the business’s eligibility. In the applications, Shibley falsified the number of employees and payroll expenses and concealed his own criminal history. To support the fraudulent applications, Shibley submitted fake tax documents and the names of purported employees who did not, in fact, work for the businesses for which Shibley claimed they worked. Shibley received over $2.8 million in COVID-19 relief funds as a result of the fraud.
Shibley was convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud, multiple counts of bank fraud, and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22, 2022, and faces 20 years for each count of wire fraud, 30 years for each count of bank fraud, and 10 years for money laundering. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Brown for the Western District of Washington; Special Agent in Charge Weston King of SBA’s Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Western Region; Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Pittano of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), San Francisco Regional Office; Inspector General J. Russell George of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin of IRS–Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer of Homeland Securities Investigations (HSI) Seattle; and Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), San Francisco Regional Office made the announcement.
SBA-OIG, the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, FDIC-OIG, TIGTA, IRS-CI, HSI, and HHS-OIG investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Laura Connelly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Werner of the Western District of Washington are prosecuting 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 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, 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.