Cases of federal fraud related to business loans continue to make headlines nationally — and right here in Kokomo.
After the Perspective reported that eight residents of Apperson Way Apartments were listed as recipients of paycheck protection (PPP) assistance last month, three Indiana University Kokomo officials also are listed as receiving tens of thousands in PPP assistance. And all three say they never even applied.
Christian Chauret, dean of school of sciences; Patrick Motl, association dean of school of sciences; and John Sarber, director of physical facilities at IU Kokomo, are listed on a federal public records site as receiving $20,833 each in PPP loans, for a total of $62,499. Each one of them, though, said they never applied for, much less received, any assistance from the PPP program.
Motl, for example, was listed as receiving the funds to keep a single employee for a business listed as a “residential remodeler.”
“I’m not a remodeler,” Motl said. “I’m an astronomy professor. I don’t think you would want my remodeling.”
Motl and Chauret, both IU Kokomo professors, said neither were familiar with the federal loan program, and neither owns a business. Chauret also was listed as a “residential remodeler.”
PPP funding became available to public businesses last year through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help businesses, self-employed workers, and other agencies maintain payroll for their employees.
A list of the recipients of every dollar of PPP funds is available online, with information on the applicants, the amount applied for, the amount received, the business type, the loan’s approval date, and the funding lender.
Though Motl and Chauret were unaware that their names had been listed as receiving PPP loans before being contacted by the Perspective, Sarber was. Sarber too was listed as a residential remodeler.
“It’s a scam,” Sarber said. “Yeah, we’re aware of it, and it’s been reported to the police and to the credit bureaus. There’s a few people in Kokomo that have gotten caught up in it.”
Mary Erb, a resident of Apperson Way Apartments who was listed as receiving $20,833, along with seven other residents, also reported her predicament to authorities after the Perspective brought it to her attention.
According to Erb, she contacted the Kokomo Police Department, the Indiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the local unemployment office in regard to the possible identity fraud.
“I reported it to a lot of different offices,” Erb said. “Somebody stole my identity, and this is not right for me.”
Erb said that, since reporting, she has not received any updates from any agency in regard to her case.
Like the eight individuals at Apperson Way Apartments, the three IU Kokomo employees were listed as having received funds for being sole proprietors, with all claiming one employee and receiving either $20,833 or $20,832.
According to ISP Peru District 16 Public Information Officer Sergeant Tony Slocum, there has been an uptick in reports of identity theft to the ISP, to the point of “about once every other day,” particularly when PPP loans first began being distributed last April.
Slocum said that there were a number of ways to report possible identity theft related to PPP loans, such as visiting the Department of Workforce Development website at www.in.gov/dwd/indiana:employmentfrau
d/fraud/ or by emailing ISP directly at [email protected].
Slocum said reports also can be filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
KPD Major Brian Seldon suggested reporting the fraud directly to the lender listed and checking personal and/or business credit reports. Seldon added that personal credit can be monitored on www.report.com, which is the only authorized source for free credit reports guaranteed by law.
Cases of PPP fraud appear to be on the rise in recent months. Two weeks ago, David Adler Staveley, the first individual in the U.S. to be charged with PPP fraud, pleaded guilty in a Rhode Island federal court to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and failure to appear in court.
Staveley filed loan applications for more than $500,000 to meet payroll for four separate businesses. Two were closed, and two he never owned.
Those accused of PPP fraud can face a myriad of charges, depending on the circumstances. Those include but are not limited to making a false statement to the SBA, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements to the executive branch, making false statements to a bank, major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy.
To view businesses and individuals listed as receiving PPP loans, visit https://www.federalpay.org/paycheck-protection-program.