For months, we've warned loans granted under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for businesses seeking coronavirus relief funds were susceptible to fraud.
A Florida man was charged Monday after using PPP loans to buy a 2020 Lamborghini Huracan, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).
David T. Hines of Miami, Florida, fraudulently obtained $3.9 million in PPP loans and used those funds to buy the Huracan, shop at luxury stores, and splurge on fancy Miami resorts.
The DoJ charged Hines,29, with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a bank and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds.
The DoJ complaint claims the man requested $13.5 million in PPP loans for four companies with dozens of employees.
"In the days and weeks following the disbursement of PPP funds, the complaint alleges that Hines did not make payroll payments that he claimed on his loan applications," according to the complaint. "He did, however, make purchases at luxury retailers and resorts in Miami Beach."
In early July, we reported a Texas man received almost $1 million in PPP loans to support 51 employees at his "Texas Barbecue" company, though the company never existed. The man used the loans to trade cryptocurrency on Coinbase.
Not too long ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he is considering "forgiving all small loans, but would need fraud protection," for businesses. The government has so far approved about $518.1 billion spread over 4.9 million PPP loans since the pandemic began.
The LA Times notes there are at least a dozen PPP fraud cases filed in 11 states in July. Many of these cases are blatant fraud, such as falsifying tax or business records, lying on applications, and misusing the money.
While safeguards to prevent PPP fraud appear to be lacking, Senate Republicans have unveiled even more PPP loans for business, which has really upset the Tea Party. "Republicans are now no different than socialist Democrats when it comes to debt," Senator Rand Paul said.