Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, at least 50 individuals have been prosecuted for pandemic relief fraud in N.C., totaling up to nearly $40 million in COVID-19 relief fraud.
The most recent North Carolinian to be federally charged is Steven Andiloro, 51, from Mooresville.
According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of N.C., Andiloro was charged with having connections to an alleged investment fraud scheme and also fraudulently obtaining more than $2.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds.
The allegations in the indictment try to prove that Andiloro operated an investment fraud scheme in which he induced people to invest their money in businesses that were non-existent. Andiloro made false statements and promises about where the money invested would go and then instead used the funds for personal expenses and other Ponzi-type payments to others invested.
For example, he allegedly told some of his investors that they would be investing in a marijuana dispensary business in exchange for a ten percent ownership in the business.
From then on, Andiloro filed fraudulent applications to obtain funds from the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) from April 2020 to March 2021. His application for his business included fake employment data, inflated revenues, cost, and payroll expenses which incorrectly caused him to obtain more than $2.6 million in fraudulent PPP funds.
The maximum sentence that Andiloro could receive would be a prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine for each offense, including securities fraud and wire fraud as well as for money laundering which separately carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
According to communications from the western, middle, and eastern districts of North Carolina’s U.S. attorney’s office, of the 50 individuals charged with PPP fraud, at least 17 have been convicted and sentenced to a combined 108 years and nine months in prison.
So far, in the Western district, 23 individuals have been charged with fraud, totaling more than $13.4 million. Only four individuals have been identified in the middle district totaling over $3.3 million, and 23 individuals have been charged in the Eastern District, totaling $22 million, according to Center Square.