COVID Feature: Nowhere to Fly Away To

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Online thieves stealing your money

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security (CARES) Act was passed in March 2020 to provide economic assistance to struggling families and businesses who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Fraudsters have abused the programs enacted by the CARES Act for their own financial gain at the expense of vulnerable Americans. In fact, the Department of Justice has busted dozens of people accused of stealing nearly $200 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so far.

A Leeseburg, Va. man is accused of fraudulently receiving $2,501,753 in PPP loans that he is not entitled to. Didier Kindambu allegedly used the money to buy a luxurious car and an airplane.

PPP loans, which are low interest government approved loans, are distributed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans are intended to alleviate the financial strain put on small businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic. PPP loans can be forgivable if they are used for payroll expenses or other business purposes. (This case does not appear to be one of those that will be forgiven.) 

Kindambu submitted loan applications for two legitimate businesses that he owns, but allegedly created fraudulent payroll documentation for each one. He claimed that he needed PPP loans to sustain his significant payroll. (Apparently, he also needed to fulfill his desire to have a new luxury car and an airplane. Sounds like someone got his needs mixed up with his wants.)   

On his loan applications, Kindambu claimed that he had 18 full-time employees which generated a $7.2 million dollar payroll per year. Investigators have stated they believe most of the employees listed on the application do not exist and the payroll amounts were fictitious. (Those 19 employees made an average of about $379,000 each. I didn’t know pilots got paid so much.) One of the businesses Kindambu listed on his application was Papilion Air. Kindambu is listed as the president of the recently formed aviation company that flies out of Leesburg Executive Airport. 

Kindambu is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He could also be forced to pay a $1 million dollar fine and potentially be required to pay additional restitution. (Seems like a small price to pay for taking millions away from individuals and families who are truly in need.) The charges against him are pending and Kindambu is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. (There’s no flying away from facing the consequences of his actions.)  

If you suspect you are a victim of COVID-19 fraud or believe someone is committing fraud, contact the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submit a NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “DOJ claims Va. man fraudulently used $2 million from CARES Act to buy Lexus and airplane,” posted on WJLA.com on October 20, 2020.

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — UPDATE: Didier Kindambu remains in a federal jail cell after being denied freedom in a detention hearing on Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, VA.

The government argued that Didier Kindambu was a flight risk because he has a pilot’s license and access to three planes. They also say he has extensive overseas assets and is a non-US citizen here on a temporary visa.

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.