Another Man Who Filed for COVID-19 Relief Splurges on a Lamborghini and Rolex Watch
A Texan man was arrested for fraudulently obtaining some $1.6million (about P78.5 million in the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The scam was announced by US Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division and US Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas.
Lee Price III, 29, allegedly spent the money on several luxury items like a Rolex watch, some real estate properties, personal entertainment, including tabs for strip clubs and a Lamborghini Urus. This wasn’t the first time a US citizen committed fraud in the PPP loan and squandered the illegally obtained funding to buy a Lamborghini.
Just last month, a Florida man committed a similar offense and was subsequently arrested for fraud. This comes at a time when America is going through one of its worst economic crisis with over 50 million Americans applied for unemployment claims.
Price was charged and arrested for making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions according to court records released by the Southern District of Texas. The complaint states that the court alleges Price was involved in a scheme to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally insured banks and other lenders. The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees the loans for COVID-19 relief through the PPP under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Dead CEO on the application list
The funding was obtained through two fraudulent applications involving two of his companies. The first under Price Enterprises Holdings allegedly receiving more than $900,000, while a loan application listing 713 Construction was approved for over $700,000. These loan applications allegedly asserted both entities each had numerous employees and significant payroll expenses. The court records further state that according to the charges, however, neither entity has employees nor pays wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the loan applications. Further investigations revealed that an individual listed as CEO on the 713 Construction loan application died in April 2020, a month before the application was submitted, according to the complaint.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted last March 29. Its PPP funding is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The US government authorized of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
Why the penchant for a Lamborghini? The Florida man accused of a similar crime David T. Hines (coincidentally also aged 29) bought a Lamborghini Huracan valued at $318,000. Price, on the other hand, chose a Lamborghini Urus SUV. Aside from the Urus, he also bought himself a Ford F-350 pickup truck, a Rolex watch, and spent thousands of dollars at various strip clubs and other Houston night clubs using hard-earned American taxpayers’ money. The Urus costs over $200,000 depending on the variant and add-ons.
So why Lamborghinis? A coincidence, maybe? There’s an old saying: “Once is chance, twice is coincidence and third time is a pattern.” Here’s hoping there won’t be another 29-year old fraudster going for a third. Perhaps the answer lies in the car itself. Lamborghinis are exotic cars that command attention, so they easily got caught. The smart ones will just buy a Prius and keep the money somewhere in Panama or some countries without extradition.