An Oakland, California woman has been charged after defrauding a Covid relief program of $4.5 million, according to the Justice Department.
Christina Burden of Oakland was originally charged on one count of bank fraud in June when she applied for and received a check of $684,375 for a shell company under the Paycheck Protection Program. Burden later submitted an additional nine fraudulent loan requests under four fake companies totaling $4.5 million. Burden used the money for material products such as a private jet, hotel rooms, luxury cars, boat rentals, and even designer products from Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus. Prosecutors in the case stated: “The Paycheck Protection Program provides a financial lifeline to needy businesses and their employees. We allege that Christina Burden obtained PPP funds by fraud, submitting false business information, false employee numbers, false bank statements, and false tax returns.”
According to the DOJ, Burden’s fraudulent applications included doctored bank statements and fake tax forms. Christina is not the only person to defraud the PPP for large amounts of money. In San Fernando Valley, California the DOJ is pressing charges against Arman Manukyan for receiving a fraudulent PPP loan of $860,000. Manukyan sent two fraudulent applications totaling $1.7 million. Andrew Marnell of Los Angeles, California also received $8.5 million in loans off his fraudulent applications.
A Detroit man by the name of Darrell Baker applied for and received $590,000 of PPP loans and used it to buy Cadillacs, a Hummer, and a Dodge Charger according to the DOJ. FBI Special Agent Craig Fair said in a statement “Those who wish to defraud programs designed to help those in need should know that the FBI and our partners will pursue every investigative tool available to us to ensure the integrity of those programs and that they remain available to our community’s small business owners.” According to the Small Business Administration, the Paycheck Protection Program has approved 400,000 loans so far totaling $35 Billion. The average loan given has been about $87,000.
ARTICLE: DUSTIN RODGERS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE PRESS DEMOCRAT