BOSTON – A Lawrence man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain over $450,000 in Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and to launder the funds.
Darwyn Joseph, 26, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to two years and one day in prison and three years of supervised release. On July 12, 2023, Joseph pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting. Joseph was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in December 2020 along with co-conspirator Ramon Joseph Cruz, Jr. The defendants were subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2021.
Between approximately April and December 2020, Joseph and Cruz were involved in a conspiracy to use stolen identity information of United States citizens to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Specifically, Joseph and Cruz used stolen identity information of U.S. citizens with high credit scores to open fraudulent bank accounts which were then linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the SBA funds.
Joseph and Cruz also received some of the debit cards associated with fraudulent bank accounts into which SBA funds were deposited, and then laundered those funds by using them to purchase large numbers of iPhones for re-sale. Joseph and Cruz also wired a portion of the funds to the Dominican Republic in furtherance of the scheme.
Over $452,000 in SBA funds were fraudulently obtained in connection with this scheme. Approximately $250,000 of this money was used to purchase iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
On Aug. 30, 2023, Cruz was sentenced to two years and one day in prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elianna Nuzum and Adam Deitch of the Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.