Baltimore man sentenced to over five years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining over $250,000 in Covid-19 Cares-Act funding and defrauding over $1 million from businesses | USAO-MD

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Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Keon Ball, 45, of Baltimore, Maryland, to 66 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft in connection with multiple identity theft schemes and fraudulent schemes, including schemes conducted while on probation after a prior conviction for state fraud and while on bail in connection with state fraud charges. The court ordered Ball to pay at least $715,504 in restitution.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Bo Keane – Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to his plea agreement, from May 2018 to June 2020, Ball and a co-conspirator incurred charges of more than $1,000,000 on fraudulently established lines of credit, using the identities of at least 10 victims in the framework of the schemes. For example, on August 25, 2018, Ball submitted a false and fraudulent application to open an account with a financial institution using Victim 1’s name, date of birth, and social security number. credit application approved, Ball and his co-conspirator committed $105,442.59 in purchases from Company 1 (a home improvement store) under the identity of Victim 1. Ball and his co-conspirator committed the same criminal behavior repeatedly, incurring charges of over $150,000 in connection with lines of credit opened using the names of various other victims – none of whom were reimbursed. Ball and his co-conspirator also repeatedly forwarded fraudulent checks to Company 1, claiming to pay the balances they had incurred. Additionally, as part of their fraud scheme, Ball and his co-conspirator obtained two vehicles worth over $60,000 and several pieces of heavy construction equipment worth over $300,000. $ using victim 2’s credentials.

As noted in his plea agreement, on February 5, 2019, law enforcement executed a search and seizure warrant on Ball’s luxury Baltimore high-rise, where law enforcement seized several forged identification documents, including three fraudulent licenses, a card reader, re-encoder, blank cards, white plastic card stock, hologram overlays, and a firearm that Ball was prohibited from possessing. Investigators also discovered that Ball rented the apartment using a forged ID document and the credentials of another identity theft victim. Law enforcement would continue to recover several pieces of the fraudulently obtained heavy equipment. Ball was later arrested and charged at the state level in connection with the fraudulent line of credit scheme, and later released on conditions.

Despite his accusations against the state, Ball was not deterred and his fraudulent activity continued. In June and July 2020, Ball submitted fraudulent loan applications to the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loans) and obtained $256,664 in government-backed PPP funds for purported businesses that did not did not legitimately exist. Each request was accompanied by a document purporting to be a 2019 IRS Form W-3, Wage and Tax Returns Transmittal, which was in fact not legitimate and contained false information regarding the alleged wages paid. and the alleged number of employees of each company. Each request also incorrectly asserted that Ball was not on probation in light of a prior conviction at the time of each request. The PPP funds were then deposited into a bank account that Ball had opened using the credentials of another victim. Ball also initiated the PPP loan application process for two other Bank 1 fraudulent PPP loans amounting to $113,258 and $231,078,000 for alleged businesses he ran. These loans, however, were ultimately not closed. In total, Ball caused a loss of $750,000, intended to cause a loss of over $1,450,000, and used the identifying information of over 10 victims in his schemes.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged 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 through the complaint form online from NCDF at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) Fraud Working Group was created to serve the American public by promoting transparency and facilitating coordinated oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRAC’s Fraud Task Force brings together officers from its 22 member inspectors general to investigate fraud involving various programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. Task Force officers who are seconded to the PRAC are given expanded authority to investigate pandemic fraud as well as tools and training to support their investigations.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the USSS and the BCPD for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Riley, who prosecuted the case.

For more information about the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach. For more information on identity theft and fraud, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/report-fraud.

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