An Austin man has been arrested for allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of $2 million with bogus applications that included the Social Security numbers of dead people.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says the perpetrator used the taxpayer funds to purchase a 26’ Pavati Wake Boat and a Rolls Royce.
Federal prosecutors announced in a press release that 51-year-old Michael McQuarn was taken into custody on Thursday after a U.S. magistrate judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
The SBA Inspector General has accused McQuarn of wire fraud and making false statements to the SBA.
Court documents say that McQuarn used sham tax documents and other false information, including nine Social Security numbers of individuals who are dead, to apply to lenders in California and Nevada.
The government says he created two fictional companies called Vantastic Voyages and Happy Days Movers.
McQuarn allegedly claimed that Vantastic Voyages had 48 employees with about $381,000 in monthly payroll expenses and that Happy Days Movers had 67 employees with about $520,000 in monthly payroll expenses.
Authorities say that McQuarn is likely not the only culprit in the alleged scheme.
“Although the investigation is ongoing, it also appears that McQuarn worked in concert with others to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications for millions more in PPP funds for his own personal use and benefit,” the criminal complaint affidavit states.
If found guilty, McQuarn is at risk of 25 years spent in prison, 20 years for wire fraud, and five years for lying to the SBA.
McQuarn is one of several Texans who have been accused of abusing federal programs enacted to provide economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Justice Department reminded the public that an accusation is not evidence of guilt and that McQuarn is presumed innocent unless the government proves otherwise.
Anyone who suspects abuse of the Paycheck Protection Program or other coronavirus-related fraud is encouraged to call the Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Submissions may also be made online.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.