BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department says seven people have been arrested in connection with a $7.5 million fraudulent scheme to obtain millions of dollars through the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help businesses keep workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three of the seven people charged were from Massachusetts, two from Georgia and one each from Tennessee and Florida.
In a news release, prosecutors say the individuals submitted dozens of fraudulent applications to Paycheck Protection Program lenders. In addition to fraudulent loan applications, some of those charged inflated the number of people that were eligible for the program and some paid and received kickbacks. All the suspects have appeared in federal court and have been released.
One of the defendants from Massachusetts allegedly issued sham payroll checks to himself and his relatives, purchased a new residence for himself, paid $32,000 to French Bulldog breeders and purchased a Rolls Royce.
The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit unlawful monetary transactions which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.