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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. Woman Indicted for $3.28M Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme Following HSI Investigation

Woman Indicted for $3.28M Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme Following HSI New York Investigation

Release Date: May 23, 2024

Defendant submitted at least 27 federal applications for COVID-19 relief loans

NEW YORK — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York task force investigation, in coordination with law enforcement partners, has resulted in charges against a 50-year-old woman for her alleged scheme to submit fraudulent applications for loans under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Donna Ingram, of Long Island, was arrested May 23 and charged with wire fraud, disaster relief fraud and theft of public funds, according to an indictment unsealed May 23. The investigation was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; U.S. Secret Service; Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration’s Eastern Region office; New York City Police Department; and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General for the Northeast Region.

“Donna Ingram is accused of spearheading a scheme that defrauded the United States government of over $3.2 million in relief funds meant for the well-meaning public during a time when their lives were in unparalleled crisis. The defendant’s alleged crimes were anything but victimless, and robbed small businesses — the backbone of this country — of critical resources. HSI New York stands at the forefront of investigating financial crimes, and will pursue justice on behalf of New Yorkers regardless of how much time has passed,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “I commend our state and local law enforcement partners for their exceptional collaboration that resulted in today’s arrest.”

“As alleged, the defendant made a business out of defrauding the government by falsely claiming that she and others needed government loan benefits to pay their employees during the pandemic. This money was meant to help businesses weather the pandemic. In reality, the defendant was lining her own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “The pandemic may be over, but this Office will continue prosecuting those who took advantage of the COVID crisis and stole funds from vitally important government relief programs.”

“Bilking a loan program that served as a lifeline to businesses experiencing distress during the pandemic is simply unconscionable," said U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Freaney. "While our nation has moved past the pandemic, the United States Secret Service remains steadfast in its commitment to holding these alleged fraudsters accountable. I want to thank our many law enforcement partners for their seamless collaboration in this important and ongoing work.”

“Abusing the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established to support struggling small businesses during the pandemic, for personal gain is inexcusable,” said Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration's Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Braithwaite. “Our office is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of SBA programs and ensuring that individuals who commit fraud are held accountable. I want to thank the U.S. attorney’s office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and commitment to seeing justice served.”

“This indictment underscores law enforcement’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that only people and businesses truly in need used public resources earmarked for relief programs during the pandemic,” stated New York Police Commissioner Edward Caban. “The NYPD will continue to assist our federal partners in any of their investigations related to that grave time, with the goal of protecting taxpayer funds and holding all alleged fraudsters accountable for their actions.”

“An important part of the mission of the U.S Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations of pandemic-related fraud. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations,” said the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General’s Northeast Region Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone.

According to the investigation, between May 2020 and May 2021, Ingram submitted at least 27 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications on behalf of her own companies as well as at least 22 other businesses. The applications contained false information about the businesses, including false claims about their revenue, number of employees, payroll costs and intended use of the loan proceeds. For example, for one business, referred to in the indictment as Subject Business-3, Ingram submitted two separate applications for loans, one of which falsely claimed that the business had earned approximately $950,950 in 2019, whereas the second falsely claimed that the same business had earned approximately $820,000 in 2019. Subject Business-3 received two Paycheck Protection Program loans for $150,000 each and the owner of Subject Business-3 provided Ingram approximately $50,500. In total, the businesses were granted loans of approximately $3.28 million. The businesses provided Ingram with kickbacks of at least $430,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program loan proceeds for her preparation and submission of the fraudulent applications.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Ingram faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

HSI New York leads and directs all operational and administrative activities of the El Dorado Task Force (EDTF). The EDTF is the premier money laundering task force in the nation and is comprised of more than 200 law enforcement personnel representing approximately 35 federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The EDTF encompasses a standalone Cyber Division as part of an effort to stay abreast of emerging criminal threats and in keeping with current and future investigative priorities. The mission of the EDTF is to disrupt, dismantle, or render ineffective, organizations involved in the laundering of proceeds of narcotics trafficking and other financial crimes. Since its inception in 1992, the Task Force has been responsible for the seizure of approximately $600 million and more than 2100 arrests.

Last Updated: 05/24/2024
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