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COVID-19: Man Admits To Fraud, Identity Theft Charges Related To Pandemic

A Worcester man admitted to applying for phony loans and ID theft during the pandemic.
A Worcester man admitted to applying for phony loans and ID theft during the pandemic. Photo Credit: Pixabay/qimono

A Massachusetts man admitted to trying to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by applying for phony business loans and then spending the money on personal expenses.

Richard Oworae, age 59, of Worcester, pleaded guilty this week to fraudulently applying for business loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the tune of nearly $200,000.

Specifically, Oworae pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identify theft.

Acting US Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said that between July 2020 and August 2020, Oworae schemed to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) by submitting applications through SBA’s website for at least three Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) totaling approximately $194,700.

Mendell said that Oworae provided false statements on loan applications and used the stolen personal information of another to misappropriate the loan for personal use. He also created fictitious companies to apply for the EIDL.

The money Oworae obtained was used on unauthorized personal expenses and to make money transfers through a money-remitter business based in Tanzania to several people in Ghana.

The wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The aggravated identity theft charge provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Oworae is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 12, 2022, when he will face up to 60 years in prison.

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